People often ask me how did I get to where I am now with my writing. Did I go to school? “I want to do what you do, but I don’t have your talent.”
The prevailing idea seems to be you’ve either got talent or you don’t, those are the cards you’re dealt. Suck it up. If you can’t be a pro then don’t bother.
I don’t believe writing is like that.
You can do what I do. If you have the desire and the commitment, you can do what I do. I learned this craft by reading a lot of books and blogs and talking to people ahead of me and going to conferences. And I wrote – every day for almost ten years now. Join a writers group, take online classes, have people better than you read your work and ask for their feedback. Submit to contests, submit story ideas to editors, blog 1-3 times a week for almost three years.
But that’s not what they want to hear. See, writing is one of the few arts you can learn. Natural talent or affinity is helpful, but it’s not essential.
Anyone who makes a living from their art has had to work hard for their success. It didn’t fall in their laps. But those on the outside like to stand in awe and make excuses to let themselves off the hook. I could never do that – I wasn’t born with that talent.
But what about those people who have natural talent, but never do anything with it? They’re afraid. They’re busy. They’re waiting for the perfect circumstances to arrive. They don’t want to work for success.
“If I’m too scared to use my powers, then I don’t deserve them.” ~Hiro Nakamuro Heroes Sn 1
If we looked at natural talents like super powers, we’d be less likely to dismiss them — less likely to hide them, because super powers are meant to help others. It would mean everyone has the chance to be a hero to someone. Some people are meant to bless hundreds or thousands of people with their gifts, their super powers/natural talents, some are meant to bless those closest to them. Doesn’t lessen the value of the gift to the receiver.
Reminds me of a line from the movie While You Were Sleeping. Lucy is trying to get Peter to see himself as she sees him — as a hero.
Lucy (to Peter): You give up your seat every day on the train.
Peter nods: Well… But that’s not heroic.
Lucy: It is to the person who sits in it.
I think we need to redefine success. If you’re using the natural talent you have, and you work at improving or growing that talent, then you’re a successful artist. We measure the success of art in terms of financial gains, accolades and awards and the size of our audience. What if we measured it in terms of influence and blessing?
If you want to write – write. You have permission to chase that dream, but know that you’ll have to work for it and know that what you achieve may not be how you initially define success.
What’s your natural talent/super power? How do you grow that talent? Do you use it to bless others?