Persistence counts for more than talent

Monday, February 10, 2014

If you don't sit there and put in the hours, write all those words down and go over them again and again and again, being talented doesn't count for anything.

If you spend more time telling people you're a writer and indulging in some romantic ideal of being a writer than you do actually writing, you're not going to get anywhere.

The person who doesn't naturally have an affinity for words but who spends ten thousand hours working at it is going to learn more and likely become better than someone who has a natural ear for a sentence but spends their time staring wistfully out rain-streaked windows and imagining being interviewed about how much of a literary genius they are.

(I have no idea what 'has a natural ear for a sentence' means. People say weird things like that. Sometimes people say weird things like that to me. It counts for nothing unless you put a lot of sentences together.)

Just put in the time. Create a product. Whether that's a novel or a short story or an album or a painting, I don't think it matters. At the very least, create a hundred almost-products and learn all you can from them. This goes for anything.

If you want to be published, and you want to make a living as a writer - which is a valid goal, just as valid as wanting to write just for yourself, just to creatively express - you can.

Things that help: perseverance, single-mindedness, motivation, inspiration, passion, a little bit of madness. Just a touch.

Talent? Affinity? Genius? Doesn't really matter. If your brain is wired for writing it's not any use unless you actually write. If you're really shockingly bad at writing? That doesn't matter either. Writing, and writing, and continuing to write, and writing a bit more after that? That does. That's pretty much all that does. (Okay, not including reading, editing, ability to accept critique, ability to deal with rejection, shh, shh, I'm trying to keep it simple.)

Persistence counts for more than talent. That shouldn't be a depressing thought. Things aren't just handed to you. That's good. It's much more fulfilling to become good at something through a lot of hard work. You'll never really 'make it'. You'll always be improving; you will always need to persist. Talent can be a good nudge - if something comes easily to you it might seem a waste not to pursue it - but it won't take you far unless you put in the time and effort.

You got it? I'm twenty now. I've got all the answers.*

*Maybe an overstatement. Maybe.
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground