I remember when got out of college and landed my first “real job.” I’m pretty positive everything I was making sucked. I’m even more positive that if I looked at some of that work today I would surely cringe at the sight of it. I had some good ideas, insightful visions, and creative concepts, yet on a scale of 1 to Clip Art, my work often felt like a less than hearty 4. I remember often feeling so discouraged when i would complete a project, step back from it and think to myself “I hate it.” There always seemed to be an enormous disconnect between what I wanted to create and what I actually created. Then one day, realizing my frustrations, a coworker sent me this creative piece in an effort to encourage me to not only not give up but to stop beating myself up.
I think as creatives we are especially hard on ourselves and, at least in my experience, we tend to be perfectionists. The words in this piece resonate with me so strongly:
“But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”
When I started out I had an eye, I had good taste, but I wasn’t able to produce. I was a creative baby. I saw people walking around, running, skipping, dancing, and I knew it was good. I wanted to dance, to sprint, to jump! But I was still trying to figure out how to stand up, how to take more than a few steps without falling. It took me two years to make something that I didn’t hate.
Two years is a long time to invest in something that you feel like you’re failing at. And that first project that I didn’t hate? Well, it wasn’t my idea. I completely copied the style of a Motion Graphics piece for the 99% conference, but i pulled it off swimmingly and that was enough to give me hope that i was capable of closing the gap. It was another full year until I finally made something all my own that not only did I not hate, but I truly was proud of.
So if you’re just starting out on your creative journey and you’re feeling a bit discouraged or perhaps you’ve been doing this for a couple years now and you feel like you still haven’t quite gotten it I want to encourage you to not give up. Be encouraged by the words of Ira Glass when he says:
“It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”