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Posted on Oct 12, 2011 in beginnings, language learning | 11 comments

Beginnings are frustrating!

“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.”
~ Ira Glass

Even though this is about writing for radio, this is my inspiration to perfect my Spanish, dive into Catalan, improve my photography, and push through my mini-quarterlife crisis. These things are frustrating at times, but I’ll have to keep reminding myself it’s normal and to ‘fight (my) way through’. Thanks, Ira Glass! Anybody else stuck at this frustrating (but totally normal!) beginning stage? 

It isn’t genius by any means, but I am definitely improving! 


  1. Another good quote for you Jess:"There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you."Obviously this is Bruce Lee and fighting we're talking about here 🙂 But the sentiment is the same. It's about recognising inevitable plateaus and moving beyond them.You sound very content and absorbed with Spanish life.With love from Luke, Munny & Jath.

  2. GREAT post. My writing was at a plateau for a few years, and in some ways it still is, but I’m slowly but surely starting to break into a higher level.

    • I’m working on mine too…little by little!

  3. Ira Glass is a wise man. I love that quote. That reminds me … I need to keep up with my knitting. 🙂

    • Good luck with your knitting! Hand-knitted stuff is the best – my mom used to knit me the coolest sweaters when I was little. I wish they still fit!

  4. Just hit “random post” and came across this one. It’s hust what I needed to read, as I’m going to be settling into a lighter blogging schedule once August ends and the courses start up again. But I’m going to try to compensate quantity with quality. As with some of the people above I’ve been at a plateau, a very long one. This little morsel from Glass may need to hang just above my workspace to keep me from quitting.

    • I did the same thing – it’s a good one to keep you going. Good luck breaking through your plateau.

  5. Thanks Jessica!
    Exactly what I needed tonight. After spending the last few hours cramming my mind with the next unit of my teach myself (& blog about it) mission to Spanish I was beginning to wonder if it’s actually possible to teach myself.. this has definitely motivated me to keep going.

    I ended up here when searching online for Spanish songs to help assist learning, and boy am I glad I did! Loving your blog. Feel free to check out mine!


  6. I can definitely relate to this as I feel like I’ve been stuck at a plateau for the last few years. Moving to Spain is what I need to do in order to get off of this plateau. It’s really a terribly stagnant feeling being stuck in that phase. Love the quote!
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted…ABC’s of TravelMy Profile

    • Right? The plateau is the worst. I feel like that still happens to me here, but every few months I have a new little challenge that breaks it up.

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