When Your Work Doesn’t Match Your Vision


I love the radio show “This American Life” and its host Ira Glass. (If you don’t listen to that show, you’re really missing out.)

So when I found out that Ira Glass has made 4 videos on the creative process, I had to watch them.

(Well, ostensibly, he’s talking about story-telling and the art of making stories for the radio because that’s what he does, but really, he’s talking about the creative process. So if you don’t make stories, every time he says the word  “stories” just replace it with the word “visual art” in your mind and it all still works.)

I loved all four, but I’m thinking that you probably won’t watch all four. But you should watch at least one.

So I’ve picked #3 and I’m sticking it here because he talks about something that no one really mentions when they discuss the creative process–what to do when what you make doesn’t measure up to your own taste level–what you personally consider really good.

He talks about why that’s completely normal, and the simple thing you must do to get beyond it. I love that he’s done this.

(And I’m not going to tell you what that simple thing is, because I want you to watch it. :-) )

So even though he’s talking about stories and story-telling, it’s relevant for ALL creators of anything.

Here it is, I hope you watch it:

Your thoughts?

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  1. Thanks for posting this Sarah! I love to have something to listen to in the background while I paint, especially content that is informative and helpful for the creative process. I’ll check out the video series ASAP. :-)

  2. Leah Virsik says:

    Loved this Sarah! Thanks so much for posting. Such truth in what Ira Glass says in this video series and it does apply to creativity in general.

  3. Sarah says:

    So glad you enjoyed it Leah. I listened to it again today before posting–great stuff.

  4. Debera Dowell says:

    WOW! it’s great to know I am right where I am suppose to be. No longer than I have been at this I might really suck for a good long time. lol.
    It makes perfect sense, I really did need this messege today, thanks again for saving me from terminal seriousness Sarah.

  5. karen says:

    Wow, this video is really compelling. Thanks so much for posting it. It will really help all the perfectionists out there who do not realize that people don’t start out being great at anything and can’t expect perfection in all they do (or any of it, really, because it is all a process, but I am still working on that notion).

    And for people who actually have had some things in life come relatively easily from the first, it can be especially helpful to see this, because they might think that all things should come easily from the first, if some do, and that they only have worthwhile potential/talent in the areas that do come relatively easily from the first. (Is that understandable??).

    Anyway, great food for thought. Also good for those of us who have gotten rusty at what we used to do relatively well and thus are reluctant to engage in that activity anymore.

    Thanks again for posting.

  6. Sarah!! thank you so much for posting this ! I love Ira Glass and I have shared this post with several of my art friends who are struggling right now!!! Fabulous!!

  7. Linda says:

    I agree with what he says and when we look back at something we created and were thrilled at the time of creation and the same item falls short today. It was of interest to me today because I did a picture in Photoshop and 90% of the people that saw it loved it, but one 12 year old girl said it was weird and I now wonder if it is not as good as I thought. If my perception is off and the young girl spoke the truth? Although everyone is not going to love everything you do.

  8. Sarah says:

    Hi Everyone! So glad you liked the video–he’s super great. @Debera–love that phrase “terminal seriousness” I’m going to have to start using it! And yay, @Elizabeth–so glad you want to pass it along–the more Ira glass fans the better! And @Karen–it’s so true about being rusty and having it feel hard to start over–but then, you’re also bringing a lot of wisdom and life experience to your work as you get yourself going that you didn’t have before.
    And @Linda! Even though it’s strangely tempting, please remember that negative remarks are not *real-er* or truer than positive ones–it’s funny how we all make them matter more! (And of course, what you think is what matters the most, right?) xo -Sarah

  9. cheri stripling says:

    I finally got to view this and am sooo glad i did. I keep hearing this message from different sources and until now, it hasn’t really sunk in. Again, thanks so much for keeping us motivated AND stimulated. Yea Sarah..woohoo.

  10. Linda says:

    Thanks Sarah :) I know my Photoshop effort was GREAT because many more people since my last remark have asked me how I achieved the effects and they loved it. I am now trying to sew an Owl from a complex pattern and I finally got the idea and it is coming along. I think I will make my own pattern for the next Owl :) Sometimes just jumping in and trying something new teaches us that there is a better and simpler way to get the same results.

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