I wrote about bridging the gap back in October of 2011 on my Chasing Creativity blog. Since that time, the blog has been taken down and I have moved on with my creative pursuits. Yesterday, I was reminded of the post when I saw this video on PetaPixel. Going back and re-reading what I wrote, I feel that most of what I said back then is still very much true today. For that reason, I wanted to share what I wrote for those of you that might struggle with their creativity in the same way that I have and still do today.
Bridging the Gap
I came across this video of Ira Glass talking about Storytelling sometime last year. It resonated with me quite a bit at that time because I had just put my creative pursuits on hold. I thought about what he was saying for a couple days and filed it away as something to revisit later. I had all but forgotten about the video until I came across the following quote taken from it not once, but twice last week on Google+.
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.
Sitting there reading the quote and then re-watching the video left me with a really great feeling. It makes me feel good about picking up a camera again and diving back into my creative pursuits. While I originally put all this on hold because life got too busy, I always had those feelings of my work not being any good while I was knee deep in photography. I would shoot and shoot and shoot and come home disappointed because the images I brought back didn’t live up to my expectations. They weren’t as good as all the awesome work I saw online and that left me feeling discouraged. Now that I think about it, this discouragement likely made it easier for me to put my creative work on hold. I could focus on real life and forget about the fact that I wasn’t any good at photography, at least in my own eyes.
Coming across this again now just seems too timely to be a coincidence; it helps reaffirm the confidence I have now which I lacked a year ago. I still see a huge gap between my work and my taste, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the fact that the pictures I make don’t get a hundred comments on Flickr or any likes on Facebook. I’m okay with the fact that my work doesn’t stand up to the work of those I admire. I can now honestly say that I like the pictures I make and that’s what matters most. Because at the end of the day, I’m not pursuing anyone else’s vision, only my own. So I plan to keep making pictures and to keep writing because I love it and it makes me happier now then it did a year ago. And I’ll be okay if I never ever manage to completely close the gap between my work and my taste as long as I continue to love what I’m doing.