T is for talent

Do you need talent to write?


Can you become a good writer through practice? 


Can you become a great writer? 


Are some people born with more talent than others? 


Are there lots of talented people out there? 


But that doesn't mean that you can't learn to write, or that you shouldn't bother, if it doesn't come easily. What it means is that you have to work harder. And, no, you might not be winning awards left and right, or publishing books before you can vote. But that's ok. Because you aren't writing for the awards, right? You are writing because it is as essential to you as breathing, you are writing because you have to. So in the end, it doesn't really matter if you have talent or not. You need to write anyway. But having talent makes everything so much easier.

Or does it?

So many creative people live tragic lives. Addictions, mental illness, suicides. Often, breathtaking talent comes at a price. The genius who writes a masterpiece at age 20 might have a dark side--a relentless depression that causes the same person to kill themselves--or someone else-- at 25. 

All of us are good at something. Some of us are better than others. It's just how it goes. But the most successful authors are not always the most talented. Often, what separates the talented, successful person from the talented unrecognized person is simply hard work & a refusal to give up. 

And that's something anyone can do.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” 
― Stephen King

“Everyone has talent. What's rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” 
― Erica Jong

Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.” 

Talent is extremely common. What is rare is the willingness to endure the life of the writer.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut
― Irving StoneThe Agony and the Ecstasy

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” 
― Émile Zola

“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” 
― Kevin Durant

“I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.

[Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction, New York Times, April 19, 1992]” 
― Cormac McCarthy

“Writing is really just a matter of writing a lot, writing consistently and having faith that you'll continue to get better and better. Sometimes, people think that if they don't display great talent and have some success right away, they won't succeed. But writing is about struggling through and learning and finding out what it is about writing itself that you really love.” 
― Laura Kasischke

“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is ... curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don't think the talent makes much difference, whether you've got that or not.

[Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957]” 
― William Faulkner


  1. Agree! There are many similar examples in the sports world. Talent is nice, but hard work is what makes stuff happen for most of us. I like to call it 'grit'.

  2. And the truth lies somewhere in the middle. One needs a certain amount of talent and the ability to (more or less) hard work. Then something good can come out of it, otherwise the one or the other is "wasted" ...


  3. I loved this! It's true that talent won't get you everything you want or hope for. We all have to be willing to work hard and keep learning the skills that frame talent. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Talent is good, but you also need to be prepared to do the hard work.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author


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