When we seek advice, we’re generally looking for guidance and, at times, for inspiration. We’ve all felt creatively stuck or discouraged at some point, which is why we illustrated some of our favorite pieces of advice from some brilliant individuals currently doing great creative work:
Ira Glass’s quote on creative work, given in a 2009 interview, has almost become, as he puts it, “more famous than most of [his] work.” At its core, Glass’s quote reminds us why we seek, take and often ignore advice.
Advice isn’t revolutionary. Stripped from illustrative language most advice is common sense: practice makes perfect, do the work, you’ve only got so many hours in the day, use them wisely. It’s the way advice is contextualized that prompts for thought and consideration. Often, the best advice doesn’t offer a specific soultion, as much as that may be what we’d prefer.
Everyone needs inspiration but the most important piece of advice is the one that gets you to sit down and do the work. You can have a creative mind and come up with brilliant ideas but those ideas don’t matter if there isn’t any form of execution.
Everyone needs inspiration but the most important piece of advice is the one that gets you to sit down and do the work.
We picked advice that echoed this sentiment and came from modern-day, successful creators. And while they’re all from different industries, they have one thing in common: they followed through. You can find the full quotes below:
“The most important thing you can do is do a lot of work” – Ira Glass
“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 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 its 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.”
You don’t want to cultivate things that rob you of time – Ta-Nehisi Coates
You don’t want to cultivate things that rob you of time… I think it was Julianne Moore who said, “Be regular and ordinary in your personal life so you can be wild and creative in your work.” And I’m a big, huge believer in that. You need as much personal life discipline as possible because that allows you to wreak havoc in your work….I think because I was relatively conservative in my personal life, I could be flagrantly radical and liberal in my work and go all over the place – Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic
I did not think that the side stuff I did would end up being so important to where I ended up – Ann Friedman
In retrospect, I think that a lot of the things that set me up for the life I have now were choices that I made related to work but outside of my day job. I did not think that the side stuff I did would end up being so important to where I ended up….There’s a lot of things that I think I’ve done because I was frustrated with a lack of opportunity or lack of growth in the day job that I had, or I couldn’t find a way to monetize certain skills that I had, so I found a to feel fulfilled and use those skills – Ann Friedman for Extraordinary Routines
That your first step is just that: the first of many steps – Ashley C. Ford
That your first step is just that: the first of many steps… someone explained to me that my first steps did not necessarily determine one path for all my tomorrows. There would be more decisions, and more opportunities to make a shift should I need to do so. Nothing has ever made me feel less afraid to simply try something new – Ashley C. Ford for In The Company of Women
Imitate – Bruce Mau
The chief reward is going to be the process of doing it – Alex Webb
The chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards — recognition, financial remuneration — come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or — often — both. Certainly, there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career – Alex Webb for Magnum
Don’t hesitate to start businesses or projects because you think you’re too young – Tina Roth Esinburg
Don’t hesitate to start businesses or projects because you think you’re too young. “I wish I had a wake-up call earlier. It never occurred to me that you could start all that sooner when your life is so much easier and there are fewer responsibilities – Tina Roth Esinburg for Extraordinary Routines
Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with – Seth Godin
Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle- Seth Godin
Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work – Chuck Close
Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great art idea – Chuck Close for Inside the Painter’s Studio