Do Not Stop Creating (Just Because It Isn’t Good Yet)

[tentblogger-vimeo 24715531]

I love this quote by Ira Glass which is transcribed 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.

I think there’s much to be said about this quote and I’ve mentioned more than a few times on this blog that one of the top and most simple strategies for you, as a writer, blogger, and publisher, is to just create content, day after day after day.

It’s the volume game; quality (and recognition) will come in time.

If you think that my so-called popularity grew overnight (and I’m not that popular, mind you) then you’ve got it all wrong! I’ve been blogging over a decade now and I’m still not as “big” as many, many other publishers out there (that was never my intent to begin with besides).

Please keep your blog going, keep the light’s on, so to speak. You’re building your collection, your volume, and you’re working on your art, your craft, and everything in between.

Remember, you are a writer – so own it!

  • Chris Neiger

    I’ve read that quote many times and each time I love hearing it again. I’ve been a freelance writer for 10 years and it’s taken me a long time to work through the bad and get to the good. And I’m still learning! Thanks for the reminder to keep going!

    • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

      Much respect to anyone who has been freelancing writing for 10 years. I’m encouraged by your faithfulness in writing through the good and bad times. Thanks for sharing.

      • Chris Neiger

        Thanks Ben. One of the tricks is to get into a flow that works best for you. I’ve only just learned this!

        • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

          Thanks for the advice!

  • Brian

    Great quote. …It’s similar to creating a “minimum viable product”, and then iterating on it until it’s golden.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’m a super-fan of the MVP.

  • http://locks.livejournal.com/ Lakshmi

    Good advice for writers! Every time I hit a slump, I have to remind myself – The only way to write is to write. Keep at it, push through the awful posts and the shining ones, just keep at it.

    Not sure if you remember me – the girl who had no questions to ask you at the Cobb SM seminar in Marietta? Something wonderful came out of that seminar. Met someone who helped me with my hacked food blog (http://therichvegetarian.com/), cleaned it up, connected to me to a good hosting company. So all’s well that ends well!

    Hope you are doing well, John.

    Lakshmi

    • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

      “The only way to write is to write” — such a great reminder. I’m in that slump all too often. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://abnyphotography.com Todd Balsley

    I’m not much of a blogger, but I am a wedding photographer.. The quote and the post really resonates with me as a fellow creative in a different context.. Thanks for sharing the quote and the sobering and empowering words!

    • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

      Very true.

      It’s definitely a quote that can be applicable to other creative avenues and work.

  • Paul Clifford

    Agreed. I think the fact that you are interested in an area and want to do it, proves that you’re gifted in it. I write and do video. A lot of people think what I do is great, but the great comes from having enough passion to keep at it for as long as it takes.

  • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

    This quote reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell who repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

    Continue to develop your craft and push forward.

    • http://www.undistractedchristian.com Tyler H

      10,000 hours? Ah, man, I’ve gotta write a lot more blog posts before I get good I guess…I’ll check back in somewhere around 2027 and let you all know how that goes

      • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

        Ha! Yeah, its an interesting concept, but I think there is definitely some truth there. I’m looking forward to hearing how it works out for you in 2027 :)

        • http://www.undistractedchristian.com Tyler H

          The answer will look something like “oh shoot, I just got old” haha

    • http://dustn.tv Dustin W. Stout

      That 10,000 hours idea is always in the forefront of my mind! I love how Gladwell explained that!

    • http://www.kfdp.com Kellie

      I was going to add that anyone trying to do ANYTHING needs to read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Really gives you insight on what happens with people who succeed at a very high level and things that set them apart. I saw it as a way to help myself, even at a lower level.

      Everything this guy says is true. Whatever you are doing, when you first set out, you think you know your stuff, you may have been great in school, but several years down the road you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come, IF you keep at it!

  • http://dustn.tv Dustin W. Stout

    Oh man… this is awesome! This is something that I’ve felt intuitively and seen time and time again with my own work, but I could never articulate it. Thanks for sharing this John!

  • http://www.altergamer.com Fanatyk

    I think I’ll post it somewhere as a obligatory read for beginner writers on my website. As well as a couple more posts from here. Cheers!

  • Eric Dye

    SKA-DOOSH!

    I needed that.

    Thanks, John.

    • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

      I love that you just used the word, “SKA-DOOSH!”

  • http://advertisinginconstruction.com Paul Barstow

    This makes me feel so much better, I have only been blogging for 3 months and I have seen a marked improvement in the quality of my writing in that time, its gone from truly awful to just plain old bad. I have seen a steady rise in traffic and even had comments and subscribers, I may even be in double figures. So by my reckoning I am about 1% there so in another ohh about 10 years I will be good. However apart from google panda 3.5 kicking me when I am just a babe I am enjoying it so I will keep on Keeping on.

    Thanks for the video its great love it.

  • http://www.kfdp.com Kellie

    And on a slightly different subject, I’d love to know if this guy used prezi.com for his presentation. It looks like it. Very cool way of doing presentations.

  • http://www.anablepomedia.com Robert

    Much needed, thanks for this advice.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joseph Lalonde

    Such wise words!

  • http://theannoyinglife.com Kevin Martin

    This is the very reason why I try to write a good, thought-provoking blog post each day no matter how I’m feeling. I realize that much of a blogger’s blogging success comes from the volume of content that he or she has produced.

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    Re: “It’s the volume game; quality (and recognition) will come in time.”

    Agreed! The more you practice, the better you get. It’s true. Nobody starts off perfect.

  • Denise

    Love it, well said. All of it.
    Honestly, I learn way too much when I create AND ship versus just toying around with ideas, and keeping them to myself. And that learning and growth leads to more creative ideas.

  • Luis Fernando Reyes

    Thank you for the great advice! I´m in the process of stablishing a website for spanish speaking/writing bloggers, you have always inspired me to be creative and I thank you for that.

  • http://craigallen.net Craig Allen

    This is also a great message to young musicians. You don’t have to put out a CD of the first 10 songs you write. Although the flip side of this is that you never put yourself out there to get priceless feedback. Gotta find a balance I guess.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      love it! i see this directly applying into that field!

  • http://www.mindthemargins.com Lorie

    I LOVE this quote! And the best part? I actually recognize and claim that I’m one of those that “does creative work”. Never really considered myself one of those “creative types” until recently and this quote really brought that out for me.

    I’ve been doing book design part-time for several years and have had some projects I’m really proud of, but some I wish I could have done better. That good taste thing, I guess. Having been at it for a while now, and in the process of taking it more full-time, I’m finally seeing more fruit – work I’m excited about – and it’s really pretty cool.

    Now I just need to apply the same principles to my writing…

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      awesome! don’t stop!

  • http://www.tabletsquare.com Krishna Kiran

    “You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Such an inspiring thing.. Thanks for this post…

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      it is a fight. you lose a lot, but that’s ok…!

  • http://josuemolina.com Josue

    This was plain awesome. Want to blog again, after many attempts and failures. I think I am ready.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      go for it!

  • http://www.daddym.ac Noel Coleman

    Have you seen the post by Jason Cohen on A Smart Bear? (http://blog.asmartbear.com/how-i-got-6000-rss-subscribers-in-12-months.html)

    In it he talks about how his opinion is mass quantity generally equals lower quality. He then explains his thought-process on why he writes fewer posts that are longer when he does publish. I can see both sides of the fence here so I’d tend to think that publishing frequency is less of a hard rule than a personal flow issue.

    I’ll also say that for many the issue is just getting moving at all, so your focus on just getting into action mode is dead on.

  • http://johnniehatesjazz.blogspot.com/ Johnnie Jazz

    I am currently at a standstill where my blog is concerned and I was seriously considering to discontinue posting. But your topic has inspired me to continue and not give up! Thank you for the advice John!

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      sure thing! are you in the atlanta area by chance?