Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ira Glass on Storytelling

Ira Glass on Storytelling
is a feel-good videopod where Ira Glass discusses creativity and the basics of good storytelling. (And not quitting, you quitter.)

For the folks that don't have 5 minutes and 20 seconds for the best pep talk of their lives, I wrote up something between a faithful transcript and a loose paraphrase. It's the gist of what Ira said minus the mellifluous voice. Unfortunately, the English language has no graphical symbol for lazy transcription. If there were, I'd insert one right here:

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste... You want to make TV because you love TV. Because there's stuff you just love. So you've got really good taste.

And you get into this thing that I don't even know how to describe, but there is a gap. Where for the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It's not that great. It's really not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it's not quite that good.

But your taste — the thing that got you into the game —your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. You can tell that it's still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase; a lot of people at that point, they quit.

And the thing that I would say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, and they could tell what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. (And some of us can admit that to ourselves and some of us are a little less able to admit that to ourselves.) But we knew that it didn't have the special thing that we wanted it to have. And the thing I would say to you is, everybody goes through that...

It's totally normal, and the most important possible thing you could do, is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline, so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story — whatever it's going to be. You create the deadline. It's best if you have somebody who's waiting for work from you. Someone who's expecting work from you. Even if it's not someone that pays you, but that you're in a situation where you have to turn up the work.

It's only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your visions.

So thank you, TOTI readers, for expecting work from me everyday even if you don't pay me. ;) Thank you for helping me close the gap.

I was initially hesitant to post this video for fear of turning TOTI into the Ira Glass fanboy hour, but it really beat out everything else on the Interwebs today. Enjoy.

(From Kottke via NotCot)

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