If you’re not familiar with Ira Glass, he’s an award winning radio (yes radio) host who presents an hour long show on a particular theme. His podcasts on iTunes are always the most popular and if you haven’t listened to one before they are highly addictive. Each and every one is a lesson in story telling.
I found these interviews with Ira where he talks about what I consider one of the great underrated skills in the creative process. Finding a decent subject. Ira says, “No one ever tells you how hard it is to find a decent story… often the amount of time finding the decent story is more than the amount of time it takes to produce the story.”
Also, It’s not surprising that failure is closely tied to finding great subjects. He talks about getting a subject on tape and discovering that it’s not all that interesting after all and “by killing you will make something else even better live… not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap.”
In this next segment he talks about how it’s unavoidable, if you are going to be great at something, that you go through a phase where the work you create is not as good as your expectations. “People get into creative work because they have great taste… but the first couple years that you’re making stuff what you’re making is not that good… but your taste is good enough that you can tell what you’re making is not good enough, it’s kind of a disappointment to you… a lot of people never get past that phase… they quit.”
Here’s a bonus quote I found on Gothamist (here).
Do you think we’re living in “an age of great non fiction writing”?
I do. People don’t talk about it that way because we’re also living in an age of incredible crap. Especially in journalism. But yeah I believe that giants walk among us, that writers are doing things in nonfiction – in their reporting – which is sort of breathtaking. But mostly we don’t talk about them that way.