creative work

Creative work

Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work… we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has the 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, you know what I mean?

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point 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.

And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.

And the most important possible thing you can 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. Because it’s 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. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?

– Ira Glass. Via The Good Ship Illustration. A few weeks later, I read the same quote in Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon.

Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.

– Albert Camus

I really believed that I could do anything that I wished. And because I believed it… I did anything I wished.

– Milton Glaser

Remembering Milton Glaser

The most significant things are not verbal, they’re not narrative. They’re something else. They are in the realm of feeling, expression, and art. It’s one of the reasons that the design profession is worthwhile. Every once in a while, you really get an opportunity to make things better than they were before.

– Milton Glaser

Via AIGA.

You only have what you give. It’s by spending yourself that you become rich.

Isabel Allende

Navigating stuckness

… this year, I haven’t been doing very much. I’ve spent a lot of time wandering into churches, reading old journals, watching YouTube videos, and staring out of windows, but very little time making any work. I’ve been feeling really stuck, unsure about what to do next, and struggling with a lot of self-doubt and confusion. … 

I thought about stuckness, and about where I lost the flow. … I thought of my life as a series of chapters, and I realized that each time I’d been majorly stuck, it meant that a life chapter was ending, and that a new one needed to start …

When I think about my own future, my dream is always the same. I’m living in a small beautiful farmhouse in a small beautiful town among a small community that values me. I’m living with a wife and kids I love deeply, and I spend each day making art and watching nature. My mind is clear and calm, I’m in control of my time, and I’m kind. …

In America, success is a word we hear a lot. What does it mean? Is it money, power, fame, love? I like how Bob Dylan defines it: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”

We have these brief lives, and our only real choice is how we will fill them. Your attention is precious. Don’t squander it. Don’t throw it away. Don’t let companies and products steal it from you. Don’t let advertisers trick you into lusting after things you don’t need. Don’t let the media convince you to covet the lives of celebrities. Own your attention — it’s all you really have. …

Inside each of us is a little ten-year-old child, curious and pure, acting on impulse, not yet caring what other people think. Remember what you were doing at ten, and try to get back to doing that thing, incorporating everything you’ve learned along the way.

When I was ten, I was writing words and drawing pictures.

Maybe that’s the path out of the stuckness.

Jonathan Harris

When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward.

– Paulo Coelho, Aleph

I started the Do Lectures, which I don’t get paid by, but it helps me meet lots of amazing people, which is brilliant. It is good to do something for no return sometimes. It has given back to me many, many times.

– David Hieatt. Via Swissmiss.