There is the common missconception that a writer needs to have initial talent.
Photo Credit: Nick Youngson
What is talent?
First we need to have a look at what talent actually is.
It describes the innate, outstanding aptitude to do a certain kinds of work. In terms of writing this can mean a talent for language or the rhythm of words, but also things like the ability for storytelling.
This means that a talented person can perform certain things easier than others, has an either time learning and developing their skills and can achieve better results easier.
There is one thing though that is important. It is the initial aptitude that someone has. Talent is constant. To get better and to improve even someone who is talented has to work and improve their initial skills. Even for a talented person, there will sooner or later be the point when things don’t come to them easy anymore.
There is one common belief that is deeply rooted in society and in the heads of most people: To make it as a writer, you need to be talented. I think this is completely wrong.
From this belief come statements like ‘Genius cannot be taught’. These things are completely counterproductive to aspiring writers. What does this say to someone that is not born with initial talent? That he can never be as good as someone born with it? That his work will never amount to anything simply because he wasn’t born lucky?
Some people go even further and state that without talent you cannot hope to be a writer.
The only thing these statements do is put writing on a pedestal. They make us believe that writing is something that only a selected few, special people can do. Only those can ever hope to achieve great results.
It is because people believe in these statements, that they discourage their children and others from going into the arts. They believe into the common misconception that writing, or the arts in general, is something for only those with initial talent.
The myth about talent
There is a saying by Thomas Edison that always resonates with me:
“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
In my opinion initial talent doesn’t amount to much. Similar to Edison I think it only makes up a few percent. The rest is hard work, dedication and perseverance.
Writing is nothing magical or mystical. It is not something that can only done by the gifted. It is rather the opposite, writing is a craft. Each and everyone of us can learn it. You can compare it to any other craft, for example carpentry.
The only real difference there is, is that those who are blessed with initial talent have an easier time learning and mastering these skills, at least in the beginning. That is in my opinion all there is to it.
Even talented people have to work on their skills and develop them if they want to make progress. Everyone has to work on and hone their skills, or they will not improve.
That is the reason, why even someone with no initial talent can overtake those who have it. There are many people who are gifted with a talent for words and language, but never make it far as a writer. The reason is often, that they don’t put in the necessary time and work to get better.
Someone who works hard and is dedicated on the other hand can reach the same level of skill simply by learning from their own mistakes and in time, they will overtake them.
It is a fact, that in the end, talent can rarely be distinguished from hard work.
Talent can even be hinder some. When things come to someone naturally it is often not necessary for them to put in hard work. This can lead to people to rest on these achievements and once they find out how hard writing really is, they don’t go through with it. Simply because they are not used to it being hard and challenging.
Hard work is more important than talent
In the end, as a writer, the most important things are hard work and dedication.
Talent is nothing but a nice foundation. What we should not forget is that each one of us can build this same foundation for himself. Sure it might take a while and sure, it might be hard, but it can be done. One thing you will learn early on though is the importance of hard work.
Many people also make the mistake to think that those who are talented can do things without effort. It is yet another misconception. Even they have to work hard. It is not seldom that talented people are among the once that work the hardest.
In the end, there is no way around it. If you want to make it as a writer and succeed, you need to work hard.
Never listen to anyone who tries to make you believe that you can’t make it as a writer, because you are born without talent. Remember, writing is a craft. You can learn it, get better at it and master it, if only you put in the necessary work.
It is all about perseverance and doing your work, nothing else.