Thursday, July 12

Jody Hedlund: Talent Is Overrated


Ever wondered whether you had what it took to be a writer? Ever feared you weren't talented enough? Jody Hedlund's article is a breath of fresh air sweeping away the poisonous cobwebs of doubt. She writes:
Talent is over-rated. Sure it may help to have a little bit of inborn gifting to help you get going on something. Talent may help you progress a little faster and easier.

But . . . talent isn’t necessary to succeed. ...

1. Stay determined. Decide you want to do it. Then make up your mind to stay the course.

2. Don’t get discouraged (at least not for long). Don’t listen to the naysayers who don’t think you have what it takes (especially if that naysayer is yourself!). And if you are discouraged, let it push you to try all the harder.

3. Don’t give up too soon. Stick with it even when you know you’re not all that good yet. Remember that most don’t start out as super stars, that they have to work hard for years before honing their skills.

4. Surround yourself with friends who share and understand the passion. They enrich the experience.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others. While I may have compared my son to others, he didn’t. He always focused on what he needed to do and never worried about how he measured up to others.

6. Work your tail off. Go at it until you sweat and feel pain.

7. Practice daily (or at least regularly). Come up with a routine. Have a checklist (my son did).

8. Continually push yourself to improve. Once you’ve mastered something, then learn something new.

9. Keep the vision of what you can become. Always see the product of what you will accomplish if you work hard enough.

10. Most of all enjoy it. Find pleasure in the process itself, even when it’s hard.
Visit Jody over at Jody Hedlund Author and Speaker and read the rest of her article, 10 Traits That Are More Important Than Talent.

I agree with each and every one of Jody's points, especially #7. It reminds of Kris Rusch's post, Writers and Business. Kris writes:
Talent is, as the cliché says, its own reward.

And its own curse.

I have watched hundreds—and I do mean hundreds—of talented writers fall by the wayside as their less-talented (by the judgment of a teacher, editor, critic) fellows succeed. Why are the less-talented succeeding where the talented fail?

The convention wisdom is that the less-talented appeal to the masses, as if the masses are a bad thing. But what’s really happening here is this: The so-called less talented feel that they must work harder to get where their talented peers are naturally. So the so-called less-talented end up with a work ethic where the talented have none.

But what about the people who are clearly better at writing than others in the class? Aren’t those people talented?

No. Sometimes what’s considered talent by a professor is simply that a writer writes to that professor’s taste. More often, however, the “talented” writer has had more practice than others and is more skilled by the time they get to the class.
The rest of Kris' article is equally great, a must read if you've ever felt droopy and depressed, wondering if you have enough talent to make it as a writer.

As Stephen King once wrote: Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

Amen.

Related links:
- Terry Gilliam: Talent is less important than patience
- Kris Rusch: The Value Of Imperfection
- The Key To Being Talented: Work Hard!

Photo credit: ♥JanltoilE♥

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I disagree to an extent. I think that talent is vital to doing well as a writer. That said, a lot of people who think(or are told) they have no talent actually have a bunch of it that just needs to be brought to the surface. That's the tricky part.

    Further, too many with talent use it as an excuse to not work hard. They won't hone the craft to improve or do the in-the-trecnches work required outside of writing.

    There's a great deal of talent out there(hidden as some may be). However, it's work ethic that is lacking in many, and those people are usually content to blame others or "the system" when they don't succeed.

    ReplyDelete

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