I love Ira Glass’ straight talk here about how cruddy it can feel when we’re learning an art or craft, and aren’t yet making work that meets our own standards.
As he points out, our high standards are a big part of what gets us interested in doing the work. (He’s talking about storytelling, but everything he says applies just as well to music–or any other art or craft.)
So we can trust that our high standards mean that we’re going to do really good work. We aren’t inherently sucky at this. If we were, we wouldn’t be sensitive enough to music to have any interest in learning to play.
The gap between our standards and our actual playing, then, is just a matter of experience. And the simple, non-sexy solution to that is to keep doing the work. Do what you need to do to develop the skills to make what’s in your head come out of your instrument.
Yes, it will take time. How much time it will take depends on what you do with your time. If you have the opportunity to devote a significant amount of your time each week to focused practicing, then you’ll quickly close the gap between your playing and your ideal playing. If you’ve got a lot on your plate in terms of work, family and other commitments, it will take longer because you won’t have the chance to put in quite so many hours.
Either way, it’s okay. As long as you stay focused with the time you do have, you will be closing the gap.
Don’t beat yourself up for not already being a master. That just wastes energy and makes you want chocolate. (Or a beer. Or to spend three hours glazy-eyeing Pinterest. Or whatever’s your favorite escape/numbing strategy.)
It definitely doesn’t do a dang thing to close the gap. Practicing is what does that.
(Of course, if you want guidance with that, I’d love to help you.)