It’s Takes a While Before Your Writing is Good

When you’re just starting out as a writer, your work may disappoint you. It can be years before you are writing to the level of your expectations.  You know what you wanted to write and you can see that it is not meeting the bar.  The alternative is to believe everything you write is gold, and you don’t grow if you are that person.  While your writing might disappoint you, it should not discourage you.


After I write something, I wait a couple of days.  When I read it, it is never as good as I thought when I wrote it.  I know what I wanted it to be, and it’s not there.  Even this short blog post was rewritten 2 3 4 times. I have always done this and I do it now, but I do see improvement and I’m closing the gap between what I want to create and what I am actually creating.

Ira Glass, the producer of This American Life on Public Radio, understands how disappointing it is when you miss your mark, creatively.  Glass says, when he started out, he wished someone would have told him that everyone who does creative work goes through a phase where there is a gap between your good taste and the quality of the work you are producing. He says a lot of people never get past this  phase – this normal phase.

“It’s too hard,” they say.

They quit.

Ira Glass is my hero because he remembers what it is like to be where I am now, and he gave the best advice anyone could offer. 

“Do a lot of work.”

Give this a watch and maybe you will see what I mean.


Thank you, Ira Glass.


7 thoughts on “It’s Takes a While Before Your Writing is Good

  1. I think it is telling that my initial response was, “That’s not me!” Denial–the river in Egypt and my opening salvo when I hear good advice about writing from a new source. Yet, when I listened a second time, I realized Mr. Glass is only stating what I have taught for years: writing is hard work. Anyone who says differently has never faced that wall. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Twana,

      We don’t live in a world where it’s OK to say my work does not meet my high expectations. We live in a world where people make excuses and defer and detract and do everything possible to draw attention from their lacking in… whatever. Ira Glass reminds us, as artists in whatever capacity, that it takes time to be as good as you want to be. And while that might not be OK in the external world, as a writer in my enclosed bubble where I create characters and stories, it is liberating and fantastic! It’s OK to not be as good as you wanted to be. Keep at it, or as Ira Glass says, DO A LOT OF WORK.
      And if I do that, I will improve and I will, one day, meet my own expectations.

  2. Cheers, Mitch. This is a good booster, and, in its simplicity, states the obvious. I will be replaying this a lot in the doubting hours.


    • It encourages me, Bobby. I try take solace in the fact that I can see where my writing needs improvement. It’s what Ira Glass refers to as “having good taste.”
      As long as I can do that, I can adapt, improve and know what I want to try for.

      Shoot for the head, Bobby.

  3. I know EXACTLY what he means… you know what you want it to be and know that it is gonna take a lot of work to get there. It is a big relief to know that it is not just me.


    • Dear Sue,

      It angers me a little bit that this isn’t common knowledge: It takes everyone a while to get good at whatever creative endeavor you undertake.
      It shouldn’t be that way. Yes, there are a few geniuses born to the craft who excel at it, but there are many, many more who just have to work really hard to meet their aspirations. I’m most definitely in the later category, and Ira’s advice to Do a lot of work actually changed my perspective on how I approached my writing.

      The first draft of Undertaking Hartford had some good concepts and story threads, but I can’t make it good. I have to rewrite it now that I know what I want to happen and I have the voice of the MC down pat. I do not think I would have seen that if it were not for this sound byte from Ira Glass.

      I almost weep with this acceptance of failure it allows. It takes some time. You just need to want it bad enough.

You were saying?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s