Maybe you shouldn’t be a writer after all.
I’ve thought about this a lot (especially when I look at my own work and get depressed). In one previous blog I wrote about how you need talent, hard work, and connections to be successful. You don’t need them in equal amounts — if you have great connections, you don’t need as much talent, for instance (which is the only way to explain the success of some writers, musicians, and actors).
But assuming you’re an average person who wasn’t born into a well-connected family, talent is pretty much a necessity. And by “talent” I mean that creative spark that gives your work uniqueness and originality.
There are just too many creative people out there who, well, aren’t very creative.
Come on, you know it’s true. They may have all the skills but there’s still something missing.
In the past few years, as I have attended writer’s conferences and readings and so on, it’s becoming clearer. There are so many aspiring writers who know their grammar rules and understand the concept of what makes a good story who just don’t have that extra something that makes a story real. And yes, during my moments of self-doubt, I worry that I belong to that group.
I don’t know how to teach talent. I sometimes think that is something you are just born with.
When I was in High School, I wrote a musical comedy that our drama club put on. It was a silly western called “But I’m Allergic to Horses.” I got my musician friends to play for us, and I also recruited some of the students from the music department to help. There was one girl who played piano who, if you put the music in front of her, could play it without a mistake — something that always impresses me. I never learned how to read music other than the very basics. When we practiced the songs, I would give her the chords and ask her to improvise, and she was absolutely lost. She had no creative skills at all, despite her mastery of the piano in all other respects.
And there are some writers like that. They write much better than I ever could, but their stories lack originality, surprise, excitement. They have the technical part of writing down pat, but their work is predictable and boring.
Obviously, what you need is mastery of both the technical part of writing and the creative part.
But at least one of those, you can learn.