While sometimes my instagram (shameless plug alert) may make it look like my life is full of fluffy dogs and scrumptious food, that’s true 90% of the time. I’m pretty lucky in that my life is generally full of happy moments and meaningful people, but I often struggle the most with learning to work as a creative when most of my life, I was trained to be an analytical, scientific person. That’s not to say that creatives aren’t any of those features, but now I’m really using that other side of my brain that hasn’t had as much practice.
With the endless supply of jaw-dropping photos, delicious recipes, and overall inspirational stuff out there, I often find myself struggling with feelings of inadequacy. Why do these photos never turn out the way they do in my head?? How can I get it to look like his/hers?? And I know you’ve probably read all these other posts about inadequacy, don’t compare yourself to others, etc. etc. but IT’S TRUE GUYS. And it’s not really about other people, it’s more about how you deal with improvement and learning. I guess it’s a good thing that I think my work could always improve, but at the same time it sure is tiring dealing with your own feelings of satisfaction. However, when I feel this way, I try to look at photos that I really felt proud of, or think about where I was 2 years ago and where I am now. Then I think ok, this is slightly better. Then I get over myself and am like, “OK NO MORE PITY PARTY, NANETTE”.
Anyway, what spurred this long personal ramblefest was reading this Ira Glass quote, which apparently I am also super late in the game in hearing about. What’s interesting enough is how I (finally) stumbled upon it. It was in my weekly quora newsletter, where someone asked “Do bad designers ever know they’re bad?” The question actually made me chuckle a bit, and I didn’t think it was that serious of a question, and expected to read some silly stories about horrible artists that people have worked with. But then… surprise surprise! I read something very insightful and relatable to me.
“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 it’s 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.”
So now, when I’m feeling like my work is crappy, I’m going to remind myself, “at least you have good taste.” Lol. Well in all seriousness, this was a really great quote to read and now I’m re-inspired to throw myself in the throes of creativity. Also, a reminder to do fewer things with better quality rather than more things that are mediocre, just for the sake of doing it. HOLD ME TO IT Y’ALL. Thanks for listening.
*A selection of my favorite photos I’ve taken recently.