Ira Glass on storytelling

I love Ira Glass (I’m an avid listener of This American Life) and I love his advice to new creatives. This is from him talking about storytelling:

Nobody tells people who are beginners, and I really wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like 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. And the thing I would just like to say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have. Everybody goes through that; it’s totally normal.

The most important possible thing you could do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline, so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile and you just have to fight your way through that.

And here the video (part 3 of 4):