September 10, 2011

Thoughts on creativity

It a funny old thing, making stuff.  There are moments of great elation when a piece turns out really well, matches or even succeeds what you were hoping for. Sometimes though, when you are in the midst of a creative project or job, it is easy to fall into the trap of being over-critical of your own work, downcast even, when the creation threatens to fail to meet up to the original vision. In these times it is easy to lose heart, or doubt your skill. It becomes tempting to give up, when in fact determination and persistence are the critical things to hold onto. Maybe this is particularly true for those in the early days of their craft, does experience forge resiliance I wonder?

Anyway, I came across these words on the lovely blog of another jeweller, and I found them so encouraging and so pertinent to this jarring gap artists can sometimes feel between their vision and their actual achievement. It is a good reminder that artistic brilliance, for the vast majority, is fought for, and worked on, doggedly, with ambition and energy and the will to succeed. Inspiration may alight upon us on angel wings, but craft? It takes work, and practice and graft. No shame in that.

"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.”

- Ira Glass


  1. Thank you! There are some things I want to try but I've been too scared because I know it'll be less than I've hoped. I feel persuaded to give it a go and keep trying! Xxx

  2. That's a lesson that has meaning for lots of people in many situations, and a great reality check for us all. Hope it helps you with your work - which it already very good. You have a great eye, and your skill will increase with practice, but it's difficult not to be overly critical of one's own work. xo

  3. Hi Alice, just do it, and keep doing it until you get it to how you like whatever it is you have envisioned! More and more, I am convinced it is not being afraid to just make it happen! xx

    Webb, thanks, I am not great at being patient with myself. Appreciate your kind words.