Creative Frustration?

If you’re new to writing, you might not know this yet—and even if you’ve been writing for a while, it never hurts to stop and remember:

You know that feeling you get when the words you write just aren’t as compelling as the story in your mind? That’s normal.

Ira Glass says one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard anyone say about the creative process, and even though this link has been kicking around for a while, it seemed like a good reminder for an April Monday.

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 is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and 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.

There is a gap that we spend our entire creative lives working to close. And that’s as it should be.

For more detail, here’s the Ira Glass interview on storytelling.

7 thoughts on “Creative Frustration?”

  1. True, the gap between what we feel and what we express is vast, and not only at the start of our writing careers. Great writers find the words, after many years, to convey what they feel; hacks use words to fumble towards an experience that they never felt.

  2. Well Well,

    I accept many new writers have potential and taste!! Their stories do allure people *I believe* .. yet like me .. they are all gonna stay in stage of beginner for sometime .. coz:

    No systematic approach to writing!!

    No discipline @writing schedules

    Another Author

  3. I see that it does take time to develop as a writer. There are so many things to consider; grammar punctuation, spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, and the list goes on. I realize that whether you’re writing fiction or drama, nonfiction or advertising, learning to become a good writer takes time; and for me, giving up is hard to do. My plan is to spend more time learning and practicing the art of writing.

  4. So good to hear someone else articulate that fact of writing life. Those of us who are still fighting our way out of this phase know instinctively ( I hope you do!) that there is light at the other end of the tunnel, but your threshold for self-inflicted pain has to be high enough to endure! I find one of the best tools for dealing with the inevitable self-flagellation that comes with this process is to look back on an early piece of writing from my childhood that showed those first glimmers of promise. What enabled me to turn out something that good was the unfettered freedom with which I (and probably you too) wrote. I was less worried about what others would say, and wrote to please myself. I was far less judgmental about my first drafts and let the inspiration just carry me through. Try to remember that free-spirited pleasure with which you wrote as a youngster. It will go a long way to help soothe your aching ego.

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