December 5, 2011

Stories Told Through Ira Glass

If you do anything creative, you know the battle between a flash of instant brilliance, and working, working, working to get to that inspiring idea.

In the clip above, Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, talks about how practice makes perfect even when it comes to creative work (click for video).  Cue Gladwell’s Outlier’s pitch.

Just because you have taste and vision doesn’t mean the work you put out matches your ambition. You need to do a large volume of work before you hit upon something really compelling, and your output catches up to your good taste.  

In fact, the good taste that many creators have often stifles the ‘artist as a young man’, because one realizes that the early output…isn’t all that great.

That said, there are constructs to follow to possibly get to that successful spot more readily.

In an additional segment, Mr. Glass shares his experience of what makes a good story. Although he focuses on broadcasting, his nuggets of truth are applicable whether creating or presenting or…socializing.

As he says, a story is essentially a sequence of events told in a compelling way that carries the audience towards a destination, coupled with a moment of reflection on why the story matters.

The trick?  Figuring out the strong interplay between the two and editing down to content that isn’t crap.

Storytelling is powerful in any situation, creative or not, because our brains are wired to process in terms of narratives. With a lot of work, editing, and luck, you can create better communication in the form of a good story.

Maybe a pair of Ira Glass’s thick glasses would help as well.