How to be a Beginner

This is part of the series "Being a Beginner", dedicated to early product and design pros.

Nobody tells people how to be a beginner!

I really wish somebody had told this to me earlier; that I'm sure all of us who do creative work, like you know, we get into it because we have good taste. But what happens is there's a gap in the first couple of years of creating stuff, where it isn't so good. Sure, it's trying to be good and it has a mission to be good, but it doesn't quite hit the mark.

However, your taste - that thing that got you into the game - your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough to tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. You're not bad, and a lot of people never get past this phase.

A lot of people at this point will quit, but I want to say to you with all my heart that most everyone I know who does interesting creative work went through a similar phase, where they had really good taste, but they could tell what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. It felt short. It didn't have that special thing that we all wanted it to have. What I want to say to you is that it's totally normal to go through this. If you're going through it now, or if you've just gotten out of this phase, you need to know that it's totally normal. The most important thing you can do is to do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. By going through a volume of work, you can catch up and close that gap, and your work will start to be as good as your ambitions. It will take a while, and it's normal to take a while; you just have to fight your way through it.