A few months ago, I stumbled upon a great snippet from This American Life. In it, Ira Glass describes the struggle that many creative people face when they first start making art. When we first start out, we have this great idea of what our art should look like. Then, as we start producing content, there emerges a divide between what we want to create, and what we actually create. Ira Glass calls this phenomenon The Gap.
It’s difficult, really difficult, to look at your work and be categorically unimpressed with what you’ve done. The overwhelming urge is to feel ashamed, and in your shame, to quit producing. As Ira says, “A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people, at that point, they quit.” It’s easier than you would believe to succumb to The Gap. I, dear friends, succumbed to The Gap.
This is my first post in almost 10 months. For a long time, I let this space sit here, not knowing how or what to post. Work got crazy, life got crazy. Honestly, I feel like I kind of lost track of my voice and didn’t know how to get it back. I was so disappointed with what I was creating that I took the coward’s exit and just stopped creating.
It was kind of like burnout, but, like, 1000 times worse. It’s kind of like you lose your desire to be creative, and then one day, then you stop. It took me a long time to regain sight of why I had this blog in the first place. The only thing that I knew was that I wanted to create content; I just didn’t know how to make that content good enough.
There’s one way out of The Gap, friends. Mr. Glass puts it eloquently: “the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.” When you produce a lot, consistently, when you stretch your creative brainmuscles and just do, even if whatever you’re doing isn’t quite at the quality that you’d like it to be, a funny thing happens: you tend to get better at whatever it is you want to do.
I’m struggling creatively, but I’m making progress. I made myself a shiny new skin (checkout the new site layout!), and I’ve come back to this space ready to start making stuff again. There are so many things I want to learn, and the hardest part is that I know it’s going to take me a while. It’s normal to take a while to get free of The Gap. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Have you ever struggled with The Gap? What was it like, and how did you get past it? Let me know in the comments!
And, of course, here’s The Gap for all my creative types out there.