Ira Glass, the well known radio personality and host/producer of This American Life describes the creative process and the importance of sticking with your craft. He states how it takes time and the best thing to do is keep working, keep trying until you get to where you want to be. The Baltimore born storyteller has a rich history in his media, beginning an internship in 1978 at the age of 19 with National Public Radio in Washington D.C. and the rest is history.
“it takes time and the best thing to do is keep working, keep trying until you get to where you want to be.”
The focus of the excerpt is on the grit required of beginners which can separate having good taste and creating great work. And only way to creating great work is by – you guessed it, more work. Those familiar with Steven Pressfield’s writing on fighting the resistance with immediately resonate with Glass’ message. Pressfield states, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” This sentiment applies to every creative industry.
The full transcription of Glass’ talk is below:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
If you’re interested in more of Glass’s unique storytelling breakdowns, he’s also provided a new book called The New Kings of Nonfiction, a carefully curated series of essays by some of our time’s greatest nonfiction storytellers.