Why Talent is Overrated in Writing

by | Oct 2, 2017 | Writing Tips

What stops many people from writing is the belief that they have no talent. This is what I think about talent:

Talent isn’t enough: talent guarantees zilch. It’s not a ticket to a publishing deal let alone a bestseller. It’s not even a boarding pass. It may get you to the terminal, but it has nothing to do with take-off, and even less to do with the journey and the arrival at our destination. Getting to where we want to go, is strangely disconnected from talent and has more to do with stamina. People who are blissfully untalented, often succeed where exquisite writers fail, largely because they have muscle in places the ‘talented’ neglect.

Talent often tags along with serious neurosis: those who are brilliantly gifted writers, are often serious nut cases. I say this with great affection. They are blessed with a form of self-consciousness that is at once both their writing strength (it makes their writing glimmer with depth and takes a reader into some of the most hard-to-reach internal spaces), but turned on itself, can be paralysing. They over-analyse and overthink ‘what others will say?’ They become crippled with self-doubt and shattering vulnerability. So they self-sabotage. They don’t write. They don’t finish.

 

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Talent infers a false sense of entitlement: having a natural talent for writing doesn’t make us special. Believing we’ll be discovered with little to no effort, based on one or two off-the-wall success stories of famous writers who became multi-millionaires overnight is a little, well, delusional. No matter how good we are, we are all subject to the same rules of the game: hard work, perseverance and refining our craft. Talent is not a short-cut, although it might give us a head start. Hares are outrun by tortoises who put one foot in front of the other.

If you’re fortunate to have natural talent – mazeltov. For the rest of us, writing is damn hard work. And funnily enough, the more we practice, the more talented we become. As Gary Player famously said of his golfing success, ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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