Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, talks about how we need to do something for at least 10,000 hours in order to truly master it. I also just came across this quote from Ira Glass (found here and here and all over the place on the Web):
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. 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.
I’m never 100% satisfied with what I sew. Usually not even 80%. I usually end up placating myself by saying , “It’s for a baby,” or “A non-sewer probably won’t notice.” Then I feel guilty for being so hard on myself, for being such a perfectionist. But thinking about how I’m not even close to having sewn for 10,000 hours and reading Ira’s thoughts above makes me feel better about my non-perfect sewing. And encouraged to sew on!