Ira Glass On Creative Taste Versus Skill

My friend Wayne Leeloy from Topspin posted something on Facebook today that caught my attention because it rang true with something that's been on my mind a lot lately: The difference between having talent and having skill. Ira Glass, of NPR's This American Life, makes some great points. Talent (or specifically taste, as Glass puts it), to a point, can replace skill. But initially, the lack of skill can be limiting. And in the long run, to be great at something requires both talent and skill. And that means doing it. Over and over again. And being bad at it for a while. Here's the quote from Ira Glass:

“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. 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 it’s 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.”

Click through to see the extended video from Glass that the quote was taken from.