Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Do I have talent?

There's a post here at Writer Unboxed titled "Do I have writing talent?" You're asking the wrong question. The post talked about why this question didn't work and posed some different questions that would help us gauge our writing progress.

There have been several times I've seen people come to Compuserve, post some writing, and ask, "Do I have talent? Should I keep writing, or should I give up?" Maybe you've seen this in your writing groups, too.

Writing is a difficult profession.  We all need positive feedback.  We have to have some encouragement because there is a lot of discouragement in the process. But if you have to ask the question "should I give up?" then the answer just might be, yes.

Because there is so much discouragement in writing we have to know, in and of ourselves, that this is what we want to do. That this is what we NEED to do. We have to have the conviction so we can keep going.  If your only commitment is from outside sources maybe you should put down the pen and save yourself a lot of hurt later. Or maybe you just need to take the time, think about what you want and you'll come to that conviction on your own.

24 comments:

  1. Talent is a very difficult thing to quantify anyway. Are we born with it, or is it something learned? Probably a bit of both. I believe that almost anyone, if they took the time and applied themselves, could probably write a half decent book. It's not such a rarefied field, it's just that most people aren't interested or don't want to put in the effort. Would these people just give up if a couple of others subjectively told them they had no talent? You're right that self belief is half the battle.

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    1. True words. I, too, believe that most people could learn to write decently, but it would take time. And if you don't believe in yourself you'll never take the time.

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  2. It begins inside one's self, because a story needs to get out. And each writer has a unique stories, ones only they can write. That's where my belief in myself began, at least. I can't speak for anyone else. To keep going with our writing, like you, I believe that inner push must come from ourselves.

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  3. I think talent for storytelling is inborn, but the craft of writing can be learned. So, the answer depends on what the writer is thinking about when they ask the question. (Editing convoluted sentences is a craft issue. LOL.)

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  4. Agreed! If you're asking that question, you don't have the steel to make it in this business. Hobby writing is totally acceptable. In fact, some days I think I should go back to that. It was easier. And funner. ;)

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  5. Well-said. I think most people who ask that question are simply seeking encouragement, but as precious as outside validation may be, if we aren't writing for the sheer joy and personal satisfaction of it... why bother?

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  6. Ouch. But, yeah, if you can quit then do. It's so hard, though, to view your work with any sort of objectivity. It helps so much to hear every now and then that you're on the right track, that someone gets what you're doing and hopes you'll finish. Saved me many times while I was writing my latest WIP. :)

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  7. yes I've seen a lot of doubt lately. sad. but sometimes we all just need a pick-me-up!

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  8. Very interesting post,
    No doubt everyone born on this earth have a talent or other.
    Coming to the point of writing, its indeed a different thing
    if one have a bit of that mind and an eagerness for writing it will surely
    be come out, and in the long run his or her consistent or firm decision
    to go forward with writing I am sure that talent will flourish and will produce fruits.
    Have a Happy day
    ~ Philp Ariel

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    1. I think everyone has a talent or something we are good at, and I believe that we can learn many things that we don't have a 'talent' for. As you said, a person needs a firm and consistent decision to pursue their talents or desires.

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  9. A talent can be learned but it takes a lot of practice too develop and then there's the gift...of story telling and writing. Even with the gift it's still a long process. Think of it as a sapling. You water it, give it a lot of crap for years before you finally get the first fruit. During that process, reassurance is always a plus.

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    1. Great image, Jo. Reassurance is always a good thing, and I think we need it, but we shouldn't base our career decisions on other people's opinions.

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  10. I don't have much more to add that others haven't said so well already. I can only echo that I think a lot goes into writing or any creative pursuit: desire, motivation, talent, hard work, drive.

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    1. It's a big ole' stone soup, isn't it.

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  11. Thought-provoking as always. :)

    It's difficult to judge such things from a small excerpt. I can see from the poster's point of view, though. It's wise to make sure one has the basic skills (or whatever) needed before pouring a lot of time an money into something. Problem is, because they're newbies, they know not what they ask.

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  12. Love this. Discouragement happens so easily--especially when we're getting rejections or whatnot. And like you said, it's vital to believe in ourselves!! Talent can come the more we work on something. And as a freelance editor once said to me at a conference, "If you keep writing, you will get published." I think it's a matter of not giving up. :)

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  13. There is a lot of negative in this profession. I keep a happy drawer of accomplishments to look at on a bad day. Writing is a matter of love. No writer is perfect.

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  14. I think it boils down to taking the time to check in with yourself--perhaps even doing so periodically. Everyone feels the impulse to throw in the towel after several years of a Sisyphus-like uphill climb! That's normal and warranted, but not deadly. :)

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  15. That is quite the question. Many of us feel insecure and wonder if we really do have talent. It all boils down to one main factor. DO you LOVE to write? If the answer is yes, continue for yourself. With time you'll improve and if the passion is there the talent will be as well. Remember there are DIFFERENT degrees of talent. AND WRITING is SUBJECTIVE. One critique will deem your brilliant, while another will call you an amateur.

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  16. I agree with you. If someone *CAN* still put the pen down for something as silly as criticism, odds are they should.

    Because one thing all of the people who succeed in writing have in common, is that they didn't stop, for any reason.

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  17. I always think it's sad when someone asks if they should give up, and I'm glad other writers are around to encourage them. I always wonder if I have talent [g] but I've never once been able to consider giving up. I have to write!

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  18. Yes, I think the more important question than "do I have talent" is "do I enjoy writing" -- because there is so much uncertainty regarding how our writing will be regarded or whether anyone will be exposed to it, I think, we need to enjoy the act of writing itself for it to be reliably worthwhile.

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  19. If someone's writing steadily in the first place, there's already a spark there. We all have ideas. What we need is time and practice to perfect the craft of storytelling. Starting new projects, talking with other writers, and looking at different avenues of publishing can help one get out of this doubtful place.

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