Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Making a Mess In Front of the World

Last week, I talked about making mistakes and being a beginner. I wanted to share a little more on this topic.


Ira Glass is the executive producer of NPR’s The American Life. In a 2009 interview, he gave the following advice to beginners. He is talking about writing, but it applies to anything new we want to learn.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish someone had told this to me.

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, it’s just not that good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good; it has potential to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is DO A LOT OF WORK. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And your work will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It take a while. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through that.”


What he is talking about is being a beginner. Realize that you do not know how to do what you want to do right now. You are going to suck for a while. But you can only get to the point you want to be at by working through this phase and putting in the work.


I hereby give each and every one of us permission to try something new and suck at it until we learn to do it better! So go ahead – make some noise, make a mess, fall flat on your face. Do something this week that you have always wanted to try!


  1. Beautiful advice. Thank you for passing it along. 🙂

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