Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Talent or No

Do all great writers have talent? Must one have a pool of talent to draw upon in order to be great at something (writing, in this case)? As far as I’m concerned, talent is somewhat overrated.

Here’s how I see it. Talent gives you a head start. It also lets you develop a skill easier than others. But talent does not equal success, nor does no talent equal failure. Talent or no, you need to work hard at what you’re doing. Talent is the difference between tearing words from your gut or pulling them from your overcoat pocket (paraphrased from Charles Peguy).

A lot of people say that talent is necessary, though it must come together with work and luck. I do not fully agree on this. Yes, you need to have some kind of aptitude with words, being able to string them together in coherent sentences, but in most cases, this can be learned. Writing is a skill, rather than an innate ability. Some people will have the extra head start in the form of , say, language proficiency. However, it isn’t necessary.

Not having talent will make things a lot harder, so a lot of people will give up. It will take time to catch up to those already running at full speed while you’re still trying to walk. But in the end, determination and persistence can pull you through.

On the other side of this spectrum, I think that you need to love what you do. You can’t force yourself to be a writer. If you do, you’ll never succeed in the way you want to. But perhaps the love for writing is your talent expressing itself.

All I know is this. Never give up because something is hard or because you think you aren’t good enough. If you keep at it, you get better, no matter what your innate abilities might be.

I, for one, realise that I don’t put enough time into my writing. I don’t work hard enough. I often give up for the day when a plot hole seems too wide to cover. But I’ll keep on trying. Working harder and getting further. I can only get better.


  1. I also tend to think one doesn't need to start off with natural talent to be a good writer. Hard work is so important, and most of the time I don't think I'm working hard enough either. I have to keep trying to get better than I am in the moment. I try not to go easy on myself when it comes to the quality of the writing.

  2. I agree that going hard on yourself in regard to the quality of writing is a good idea. By pushing your limits, you expand them.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.