Keep Going

by: Ian Harber

As a creative, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the creative process. People coming up with systems in order to maximize your creativity and frequently put out excellent, original, creative work. Interestingly, it usually varies depending on the person, if it’s not completely different.

In all reality, it’s hard to pin down exactly what the creative process is. Everyone is different and works in different ways, and to try to systematize creativity essentially defeats the point of creativity at all.

So what do you do? How do you get better? How do you consistently put out good, original, creative work?

I can’t tell you because I don’t know. But here’s what I can tell you. Every artist in history has experienced the same two things:

  1. The Resistance
  2. The Gap
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The Resistance

Steven Pressfield talks about The Resistance in his book The War of Art. What’s The Resistance, you ask? It’s what stops you from doing stuff. Not good stuff. Just stuff in general.

You know, when you sit down to write but there’s just nothing coming to you? You just got done with a shoot but you can’t bring yourself to edit the shots? You started a song but the hook just isn’t working so you give up on it? That’s The Resistance.

It gets in the way of you doing anything at all. The Resistance tells you that you’re terrible, so why even try? The Resistance tells you that no one is going to like your work so you shouldn’t waste your time.

We’ve all felt The Resistance before.

The Gap

Ira Glass, the storyteller from This American Life, describes the gap that all creatives go through.

The Gap between taste and talent.

You see, you and I got into the line of work we have because we had good taste. We saw a photo, video or painting, heard a song, or read a book and thought to ourselves, “That’s beautiful.”

So we tried it. And we failed.

We failed because there’s a Gap. Our taste was impeccable, which is why we were trying, but our talent just wasn’t up to par with our taste. We knew what good looked like or sounded like and we knew whatever it is that we made wasn’t good.

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So, how do you beat The Resistance? How do you close The Gap?

You keep going. You keep doing work. You fail, no matter who’s watching.

It takes humility to be an artist.

Because honestly, the stuff you’re putting out may not be that good. But the truth of the matter is: that’s okay.

Push through. Do the work. Keep going.

It may take years, maybe even decades, before The Gap is closed. You may never get rid of The Resistance entirely.

So, I don’t know what your creative process looks like. But the one thing you can do right now is keep going. And when you keep going, eventually, you will be able to look at a piece of your work, step back and say,

“That’s beautiful.” 

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Ian (@ianharber) is a writer, speaker, photographer, videographer, musician and marketer of sorts. He loves Jesus, all things creative, handcrafted coffee and songs that make him think and/or dance. He serves as the Director of Marketing for INITIATIVE (@initiativedallas) and is a student at Dallas Baptist University. ianharber.com