Tag Archives: creativity

Ira Glass on Creativity for Beginners

Got this quote from somebody who got it from somebody who got it from somebody who heard it on This American Life with Ira Glass. It’s sort of motivational for creative people.

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

“But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

“It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

There’s also a video.


What Am I Doing? (August 2010)

It’s more or less the second half of summer, and I can say that I’ve done a couple things that I’ve wanted to do.


One thing I could check off the list of things I want to do in my life is learning surfing. I’m certainly not done learning, but at least I’ve started.

Amplified by the fact that I haven’t exercised in a long time, learning surfing is almost nearly a painful experience. My body ached and cramped, and I was sore for the next few days. But I loved it. I just needed to start swimming again to build some strength before going back out there.


I don’t know what else to say other than that I’ve been doing a lot of working. I sort of realized this when I took occasional, unplanned breaks and noticed what I’m not doing. I also notice that creativity and new ideas rarely come from doing the same thing day in and day out.

At the same time, too much entropy gets me nervous. It’s a never-ending goal in finding the balance for me.


Learning from TED

I sort of left out something from the monthly review that I forgot to mention. For the past month, I started watching through a bunch of TED videos at a time on the Adobe Media Player. I wanted to see what some of the smartest and and most successful people have done and can inspire me with. Some were hits, while others misses.

I am often amazed at how some of these presenters think so differently and creatively to solve their particular problems. I’m sure some of it was BS in their presentations, but the rest is quite impressive.

This evening, I watched IDEO CEO Tim Brown’s presentation on creativity and play. He explained how as children grow up, they learn to self-edit and develop judgment of their actions, thus the ability to create freely and to brainstorm diminishes.

I certainly feel that way. Based on the environment in which I grew up, it’s practically inevitable that I’d learned to be all about perfection and accuracy. But I’ve also since learned to pull myself away from that and am now finding a balance between entropy and order (this explains my equal love for visual design and programming).

At the same time, my head is constantly filling with so many ideas about everything, it’s ridiculous. For the past few years, I’ve used many tools to download those ideas, with different levels of success. Currently, I have this blog Flush, though you can tell how much success I’ve had with it as my ideas-unloading medium (but hopefully that will all change now that I’ve switched to WordPress), I have my GTD “Someday/Maybe” system that safely stores my ideas for a later time, and I have Twitter, to my followers on which I apologize, for the thoughts there are less design and more… unusual.

And now, I am working on another medium that is the most related to design, the Experiments. It’s one of the main sections of my website that I am redesigning, similar to what I’ve done to Flush, and hopefully, this will be an easy medium for me to work with and that the convenience will encourage me to finally do experiments on a regular basis. Here is a screenshot of the design I’ve worked on today:

Yes, it’s going to be blog-based, but the individual categories will be in a slightly different format. This is going to cut down on the programming but still have room for me to be creative and explore with code and design.

So with the opening of the Experiments section in the coming days, I am optimistic that I can more easily take Tim Brown’s advice to explore and to play, and to keep creativity regular.