At the very beginning of my journey I had notions of writing perfectly crafted, musically moving, lyrically witty songs, just like the artists I most revered. Having such high expectations I was immediately disappointed with my own efforts and gave up pretty quickly. However, after some sulking and several tubs of ice cream, I began to look into song-writing as a craft, as a skill and as an art; reading and watching interviews with some of the industry’s best known writers. Just at the right time, I came across an astounding quote from Ira Glass on the creative process. It’s a long one but in summary, he says:

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. … 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.

I realised that much like learning an instrument, it doesn’t happen overnight. Even someone with a great musical aptitude has to learn their scales, their arpeggios and the practicalities of their own instrument. In fact, I came to the conclusion it was disrespectful to the intricate craft of song writing and those who have mastered it to assume that I would be some kind of overnight genius. This quote has stuck with me from the beginning.

Learning is a messy process and involves making many mistakes. It’s not a pleasant experience and involves exposing our weaknesses in order to cultivate our strengths. I realised that I had to be ok with writing 50 rubbish songs because hopefully, eventually I’d write a good one, and in doing so I would ever so slightly close that gap between ability and ambition. It’s a process that I hate to this day but one I’m willing to persevere with.

Many accomplished artists express their fear of writing that second or third album in case it reveals that their first success was a fluke and the reality is that they have nothing more to give. When their talent is obvious we ask how they could possibility think like this, but we haven’t seen the process that they have endured; the hours of work and dozens of rejected projects which led to the masterpiece we are finally shown.

Today, I still feel like someone who is just pretending to be a songwriter, hoping to make just one thing I’m proud of that others might consider “good”. But I’ve realised that most creative people feel the same, constantly trying to close the gap between their ambition and ability. In a recent interview, actor Jason Segel said of his on-screen abilities,

I write music for these movies and sing songs. I dance in the movies and I act in them. And it’s not that I’m gifted at all these things, it’s just that I’m not afraid to be bad at them until I’m good at them.”

Much like Ira and Jason, I have adopted the attitude that as long as I continue to get better at what I am doing, I can keep going. I’m ok with being bad at things for now, because I hope that with time, effort and encouragement I will one day be good at them. God has given each of us gifts and talents – that’s for sure – but it doesn’t mean they won’t need some work or that you’ll excel without effort. Don’t be frustrated if you feel you have a gift but are disappointed with your first attempts at using it. Make a commitment to cultivating that gift and learning from those who are a few steps ahead in the process. Even Jesus, as a little boy, had to learn how to walk.

Read {PART ONE} here: You have to start somewhere, so just start.

Read {PART THREE} here: We need people and people need patience. 

Written by Amie Aitken // Follow Amie on  Twitter // Amie's  Website

Amie is singer-songwriter with a debut EP that is currently being played on radio stations worldwide. Her weekends see her off on tour but she spends much of her week as a children & families worker in a local Scottish Baptist church. She’s best known for her love of tea, cake and ridiculously high-heeled shoes.

Read more of Amie's posts

Comments loading!