The Gap Between Creativity and Making Art


This week, I realized the time is now. The time is now to stop being anti-racist and start acting anti-racist. The time is now to care for our neighbors. The time is now to put the love you have, in whatever form and however imperfect, out into the world.

I’ve been struggling with the-gap-between-creativity-and-making-art since I graduated from Hampshire College six years ago. My job as a student and artist back then was to create, so I did. However, procrastination and perfectionism have since become major barriers to getting work done, or even starting it.

My friend Sarah recently mentioned the Ira Glass quote about producing work, finding momentum, and eventually overcoming the doubt, even if the work is terrible for a while. Evelyn From The Internets has a great reflection on this:

Here’s the quote:

“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 a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” –Ira Glass

The effort I put into the space between my desire to create and actually putting the brush to the canvas (or any variety of creative endeavors) is not serving me. My career is in higher education, not art, so I’ve been putting off this art thing that I love and am not terribly confident in anymore. The urge to create doesn’t disappear, though; it gets buried further and further down where it’s more difficult to find. And this week, given the circumstances, these excuses that were so good before don’t hold up anymore.

So what’s your thing and what are you doing about it? I would love for us to keep each other accountable. The time is now.