Ira Glass | What Nobody Tells Beginners

"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.

... 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.
Ira Glass, radio personality and host of This American Life. You can watch this interview at the donut project, or read it at NPR.  

I've been thinking a lot about this quote from Ira Glass. It came to in the serendipitous way internet wisdom tends to; a few clicks and I'm face to face with the reassurance I was searching for.

I think most blog-girls can tell you that they've been tempted to sneak out of the internet world, and erase their steps behind them. Because the difficult thing about writing, or radio work, or acting is that you learn by doing it in a public forum. There's a record of where you began and where you are. 

It's not just a back-log of failed attempts and bad ideas, because those are scratched out and buried in notebook pages. The writing that's made it here passed some sort of bench mark. We thought it was was good once, or just good enough to see the light of day.

And then we look back, a year later (or for me, the next morning) and think "what is this crap? I thought this was good?".  From here it all looks like a trail of garbage, like the one swirling and stretching behind the space shuttle. Just when I reach somewhere new, and look out into the vast wide open, I spy that trail. It weighs me down, reminding me that despite my grand aspirations I am simply an earthling, afterall. 

It makes it hard to trust myself, and to move forward. But, that's where Ira comes in. He tells me this disappointment in my work is good. It means, that though my grammar is faulty and my words often fail, my taste is still in tact.


  1. What an interesting sentiment. Now it's got me a good way. I think it grounds us, but also manages to inspire. That is a rarity when you come across a quote that manages to do both of those things.

  2. i needed to hear this. thank you.

  3. This is so true Sam! Its like you have to see yourself on home videos and cringe sometimes when you look back- ha ha! BUT its a beautiful way to document how far you come!

  4. I found the youtube clip of this awhile back and posted it as well. It's so inspiring to know that growth is possible as long as we continue to pursue our art through inspiration gathering, and through continuous work. Thanks for reminding me today! :)


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