I am an avid listener of NPR (National Public Radio), PRI (Public Radio International), and the podcasts they put out. Most notably “This American Life” hosted by Ira Glass. Being a listener for nearly five years, his voice has become recognizable almost instantaneously and I imagine most of my fellow subscribers share this ability. Unlike other radio hosts, Glass lends a voice of credibility. This makes for a very special relationship because regardless of the field you’re in, there is something to learn from the stories Glass tells.
During a video interview with Current TV, Glass spoke on things he wished someone had told him during the first few years of his career. Having recently graduated from college I was delighted to have come across this quote and the recent focus of a visual accompaniment video by Daniel Sax. Since discovering the video I have seen it six and half times and Glass’ quote has been emblazoned in my mind. In it he describes the struggles creative thinkers face during their first few years in their industry. Specifically he addresses the tribulations creatives have with what he calls “the gap”.
The gap that Glass describes exists between our taste or discerning eye and the actual work we produce in our first few years.
“…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.”
The only hope of getting out of this phase is to continually produce work…lots of work, and at a steady pace. Making and meeting your own deadlines is the strategy and not putting things off for the next day helps. I personally identify with this quote as a copywriter in the AP program. And just like Glass describes, every creative has dealt with or is dealing with “the gap”. I know someday I’ll be able to close “the gap” but it’s going to take volumes of work and a bit of patience. Malcolm Gladwell, another inspirational voice, once said that to truly master a craft it takes ten thousand hours of practice. There is no doubt that the connection between improvement and practice exists, but I think the bottom line is to not be afraid of rejection or disappointment. Rather to expect it and keep on keepin’ on.