On Creativity Gaps

Ahhhh, the beginning of the year.  The time where I use my time wisely and try to become all productive and stuff.  Well, we’ll see how long that lasts.

I have decided that one of my resolutions this year will be to write more, to create more, but this doesn’t come without its challenges.  I recently re-listened to a quote by Ira Glass with my class where he talks about the initial gap that creators face between their early works and the works that they see others do.  If you haven’t heard the quote, it is pretty amazing and someone did a nice little piece of Kinetic Typography to go along with it:

I think I’ve been feeling like this for a while.  While, I would consider myself a strong technical person — I am not necessarily the most creative person.  I am one that can do a task well, if it is laid out for me, but coming up with something from scratch is difficult. I think a part of that is I have felt that gap between my own work and the work that I see in others.  I feel like it is one thing for a 20-year old to see that gap and have a few years to produce some work that makes up for that gap.  But here I am 32-years old, and I still find myself lagging behind — am I too old to produce good work in time?  I really feel that I have the ‘taste’ thing down.  I am able to recognize work that is good, cutting-edge, and inspiring.  And I’ve even made a few pieces that are inspired by these works that I see, but like Ira, I have felt that the pieces that I have made are still crap — that they aren’t where I want them to be.

So here I am, starting out a new year.  I have energy to boot and I am eager to get to work.  I love making films — I love creating, but honestly that gap is the biggest thing that keeps me from moving forward.  I guess here is to working on closing that gap.

Any thoughts?  What have you done to keep yourself creating work when you felt that what you made isn’t up to snuff?

  • Man this post has me written all over it. I understand where you’re coming from 100% and I battle the same demons. There was a time when I did custom design work using WordPress and now the first thing I ever want to do is find a good theme and sort of build from there. I feel like I’m cheating the system. But I also remember most of my custom work was crap in my eyes. It’s a lose/lose situation. I think the only thing that keeps me going is to find things I *enjoy* and do those. At some point you recognize that there are some things you think you should be doing (in my case probably custom website design from scratch) that just aren’t fun. I *enjoy* taking a theme or plugins and molding them into an amazing website. I got the opportunity to do that with the ds106 site and the Daily Create site we just built. Instead of worrying about major layout changes in CSS and how will the architecture be supported in the code I got to take a beautiful theme framework and layout awesome things to compliment it. I’m having fun and if I let my “lizard brain” tell me “Tim this is crap, you’re not actually doing anything, anyone can download a theme” I sell myself short so I shut that off.

    Sorry for the long ass comment but your work last year with kinetic typography and the videos you make are very inspiring. Don’t let yourself beat yourself up. Just have fun with it and do the parts that you enjoy.

  • Derek Frandsen

    Nice post Rob, I love the Ira Glass quote. I look forward to seeing more posts and project from you in 2012. Next time you are over this way let’s get together.