Ira Glass on…perseverance

NPR is a constant in my house and Ira Glass is one of our favorites.  I came across this quote on the creative mind and what to do with it.  Whether or not you’re a writer, I think it helps us examine what’s behind our work– whatever it is.  Hope it helps.  yrs.  Laura

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that 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, and 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. – Ira Glass

10 Comments

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10 Responses to Ira Glass on…perseverance

  1. yes so true, I love to carve Native art and it took me years to get better, and I never really thought about putting myself on a deadline before. I will give it a try though and see what I come up with.
    Thanks

    • lauramunson

      Thanks for saying hi, Keith. I used to rebel against deadlines, but I’m finding that they are my friend these days. They hold me accountable to my creativity which can so often get lost in the mundane needs of daily life. I admit that I still feel like I’m getting away with something when I write, but somehow the deadline makes it seem more “important.” For what it’s worth. yrs. Laura

  2. linda

    beautiful, laura! what a great reminder. this is so true for all of us who make a living at our art. bravo. as usual! xx

  3. Just recently, I have felt a shift in my photography. After shooting for 25 years on my own, and a year of photography school under my belt, I am finally seeing the “gap” shrink. Phew! Now, off to take more pictures.
    Great to hear from you!

  4. Laura, I read this piece, too, and found its lessons similar to those I discovered only by living long enough and working hard enough. Thanks for sharing it and offering your take on it too.

  5. Patty Viers

    Hi Laura,
    This reminded me of a Henry Miller quote I read recently. It’s from his book “Sexus”. And although I haven’t read the book yet, I found this to be quite profound:

    “Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled, because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there.”

  6. Rebecca

    Now, how did you know exactly what I’m going through? Have you been standing behind me as I give this draft of my novel a full read-through? That disappointment of thinking “Well, it’s okaaay…but…”. I comfort myself with this : my first novel was unreadable, my second was readable but unpublishable – this is my third and it’s better. Not perfect, but better. I’m slowly scratching my way towards something good. But just like the quote says, I think I’ll go through a lot of work before I get there. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. Jan Larson Myhre

    Good morning, Laura, Wise words from Ira. My most important epiphany occurred when I realized I could no longer use the absence of Erato as an excuse for not writing my poetry. It became obvious that it was my own lack of discipline, and , yes, perseverance. Thank you and Ira for the reminder.
    ~Jan

  8. Hi Laura,
    I appreciate the quote from Ira and that you have a lifeline for writers. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I spend a good portion of my day spitting words out onto a page, only to delete half of them the following day. Two years ago I gave up a relatively lucrative profession (that I didn’t love) so that I could pursue my dream of writing for a living. Since then, I’ve written a memoir that no one wants to publish. And because, like you, I am obsessed with writing, I’ve begun another. At parties, when people I don’t know ask me what I do for a living, I have to gather enough courage to say “I write.” It’s not always so easy because I know what’s coming next. They want to know what the title of my book is and when it was published. I’ve learned how to respond with humor to those questions, but the truth is I secretly wonder whether I’m just spinning my wheels, contributing zero financially to my family of five, and hoping for a break that may never come.
    Lynn

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