Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

“You just have to fight your way through…”

with 6 comments

Ira Glass

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’s a gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you…A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people, at that point, they quit…Most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work went through a phase where they had really good taste, and could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be…Everybody goes through that…And if you are just starting out or you are just entering into that phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work…

It is only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions…And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met…It’s gonna take you awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just have to fight your way through that. You will be fierce. You will be a warrior. And you will make things that aren’t as good as you know in your heart you want them to be. And you just make one after another.

Ira Glass (original video here)

Written by nevalalee

December 22, 2012 at 9:50 am

Posted in Writing

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6 Responses

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  1. I’ve known this was true since I first saw how awful my Best Effort writing was. “Hey, if I can tell *why* it’s bad, I’m sure I can fix it, with enough practice.” It is a disappointing and long process, but definitely worthwhile. :-)


    December 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

  2. I think any writer, or artist of any kind, can relate to that!


    December 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

  3. I reblogged this on, and commented how I am still in this early stage of my writer’s evolution. Thank you for this post; it makes me feel better about where I am, knowing that this doesn’t have to be the (disappointing) pinnacle of my achievement, there’s room beyond this if I just push through.

    Tammy J Rizzo

    December 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

  4. Glad you liked it! As John Gardner says: “The true novelist is the one who doesn’t quit.”


    December 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

  5. And every now and then something flows out of the pen that closes that gap, that on re-reading is astonishingly close to what is possible, strengthening the resolve.


    December 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm

  6. Agreed. Part of me thinks that the whole point of craft is learning how to get those moments 10% more often—or more quickly—than before.


    December 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

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