Ira Glass on good taste
I just spoke at SDAF’s Student Day, which is always sort of inspiring and totally humbling.
Nobody tells people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me, is that if you’re watching this video you’re somebody who wants to make videos, right? And all of us who do creative work like, you know, we get into it and we get into it because we have good taste. Do you know what I mean?
Like you want to make TV because you love TV. You know what I mean? Because there’s stuff that you just like love, OK? So you’ve got really good taste and you get into this thing that I don’t even know how to describe but it’s like there’s a gap. That for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? 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 know what I mean? Like you can tell that it’s still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase and a lot of people at that point quit.
And the thing I would just like 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, you know, 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 what to do is… Everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase or if you’re just starting off and you’re entering into that phase, you’ve got to know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can 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. You know what I mean? Whatever it’s going to be. You create the deadline. It’s best if you have somebody who’s waiting for work from you, somebody who’s expecting work from you, even if it’s not somebody who pays you but that you’re in a situation where you have to try not to work. Because it’s only be actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.
Hell yeah. I wish I could have imparted that kind of knowledge on the ad kids today.
I guess I’ll be happy I didn’t make any fart jokes.