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Some Thoughts on Talent

May 28, 2018

So, I always see a lot of posts on Twitter by people in the writing community talking about how talent isn't real, and that what talent really is, is hard work behind the scenes. And I completely disagree. I think some people just have a different definition of talent. I didn't want to call anyone out in particular by screenshotting tweets or anything like that, so I'll just present my side of the argument.

 

The basic, "I googled this" definition of talent is just a natural skill. I think people read that and think that if someone is naturally gifted, no hard work went into what they do. I am a talented writer. I also put in a lot of hard work to become a decent writer, and I'm going to have to put in a lot more work to be a good writer. I'm still a talented writer. Writing, naturally, makes sense to me. Sentence structure comes naturally to me, writing stories comes naturally to me. Making my writing good is a skill. Actually writing is a talent.

 

That's not to say that you can't learn to write if you aren't talented. I'm an okay writer, but I've worked for years to reach that "okay" status. If you start off at "worst writer in the world" you can still reach "best writer in the world" through hard work. Let me try to put it another way.

 

I played the flute for a few years when I was a kid, and I now own a ukulele, which I love playing. I'm not talented when it comes to music. I can't keep a beat, can't read music, can't strum and sing at the same time. Nothing. All of that is a struggle for me. Music doesn't come naturally to me. My roommate at the time was also learning the ukulele with me. She picked it up much faster than me. She got strumming patterns down much faster, she was able to play and sing, she learned more complex notes. She is talented. Sure, there are more talented people than her, but she also has more talent than me. I can work very hard and reach her level, or even surpass her, but that doesn't change the fact that she has more talent than me.

 

Talent doesn't mean "I never had to work to get where I am". Some things just come naturally to some people. My brother and sister are better at science than I am. Right off the bat, it makes more sense to them. My brother-in-law is better at video games than me. My cousin is better at solving puzzles. On the flip side, if I asked my sister to write a novel, she would be completely lost, the same way I would be lost if she asked me literally anything about chemistry.

 

Talent doesn't negate hard work. Talent also doesn't mean you're the best in the world. Talent simply means you found something that clicks for you. I don't see why having talent, or not having talent, is this big end-all-be all. It's just talent, relax.

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