Week 44 Roundup: Gaps, Ruts, and Word Births

 Mind the gap. Sometimes you find that the work you’re creating is okay, but it’s not where you want it to be. You’ve been at it for awhile, but you’re not quite ready to get it out there. This dissatisfaction might be an aspect of Resistance, but other times you’re somewhere in what Ira Glass describes as the Gap, the awkward place between your ability and your taste:

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 ambition to be good, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer, and your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.

Most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work went through a phase of years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing we want it to have.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s totally normal and the most important thing you can possibly do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on deadline so that every week you will finish one story. Put yourself in a situation where you have to turn out the work, because it is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met.

It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.


when mom and dad and nanny first hear a child speaking a word, they unconsciously stress it by repeating it back to him all by itself or in very short sentences. Then as he gets the word, the sentences lengthen again. The infant shapes the caregivers’ behavior, the better to learn.


  • I read in the Washington Post that, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll, one in four Americans read no books last year. Yikes.
  • [If you’re looking for something to read, check out SFSignal’s awesome flowchart guideto Navigating NPR’s Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books].
  • How many books do you read a year? I shoot for fifty, but this year it’s looking closer to thirty. Maybe I could start giving books away to a) get people re-hooked on books and b) thin my overflowing bookshelves.
  • Got a side hustle? Here are five tips from Jen Gresham to help you stay sane and profitable.
  •  In a rut? Sometimes the easiest way out, according to Leo Babauta, is to take that first step, and often the first step is to ask “what if…”  If you’re looking for on this topic, check out my article How to Get Out of a Rut.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Photo credit: meyerfelix

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brooke Nissim-Sabat November 6, 2011, 11:59 am

    I’ll need more time management help if I’m ever going to read 50 books in a year!

  • JALINEBERRY November 7, 2011, 7:29 am

     I’m a little surprised that something like 3 in 4 Americans don’t read any books.  I wonder if they’re counting partial reads.

  • Anonymous November 7, 2011, 8:51 pm

    Speed reading + multiple books strategically placed throughout the house/car/bag. 

  • Anonymous November 7, 2011, 8:57 pm

    I think it’s 1 in 4 who read no books. Still, the numbers ain’t pretty. According to a 2004 National Endowment for the Arts report, only 57% of adults had a single book in the past year. One friggin book. 

  • JALINEBERRY November 9, 2011, 7:15 pm

     That was supposed to say I’m surprised that more don’t read any books.  I’m shocked that only 1 in 4 Americans have read no books and wouldn’t be surprised if at least 1 in 4 were lying. 

  • Anonymous November 11, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Silly typos. You make a good point about people fibbing on their surveys. If I remember correctly, the results were self-reported.