Facing Your Worst Critic as a Creative Person

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This quote by Ira Glass has been getting a lot of attention lately. So, maybe you’ve already read it? Even so, it’s worth reading again.

“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.”

It’s hard enough when you have a boss, team of employees, fan base, or a client who you need to satisfy with good work. To produce and share your own creative work often requires a deeper kind of vulnerability.  You lower all your defenses and make yourself exposed to the worst critic you’ll ever face: yourself. Here’s to you for having the guts to do it, and on a regular basis no less.

Many people don’t have the courage to produce bad work. They have been trained and conditioned to give up way too soon and too easily. Remind yourself why you got into your branch of creativity and remember that it can’t all be good all the time, and that’s OK! Keep your standards and your head held high.

Congratulations on having great taste and for putting yourself out on a limb regularly. Bad work is part of the process and will only make you better. If you can remember this, then you’re already years ahead of the majority.