Do You Have Talent?
Recently a writing friend asked me, “How do you know if you’re any good?” It’s funny that she mentioned this because that same week I was talking with another friend about writing and I told him that I wondered if I was smart enough to write fiction. How would I know? How does anyone know? Especially if you’re like me and haven’t published any fiction yet.
In The Scene Book, A Primer for the Fiction Writer, author Sandra Scofield, who I met a few years ago at the Iowa Summer Writers Festival, addresses the issue of talent. She writes,
A person with a talent for writing has a sound grasp of language, a love of words, and a natural “narrative faculty” …. That faculty comprises a love of storytelling and a gift for recognizing, remembering, inventing, and telling stories — a gift you surely have if you are driven to write. It’s an aspect of talent you can cultivate by immersing yourself in more reading, and in reading more diverse stories, such as those by ethnic and immigrant writers, foreign writers, and other tellers of stories far from your experience.
“Technique, on the other hand, can be taught, practiced, and learned, whether it is constructing a scene or learning to use repetition for emphasis. My experience has been that an odd thing happens in craft workshops: As writers practice skills, their “talent” flowers.
The takeaway message here for me is clear. If you have a desire to write, you are a writer. Talent can be nurtured and technique can be practiced. Spending too much time wondering or worrying if you’re any good or if your stories are worth reading detracts from the mission at hand. Get in the room and write. Don’t get up. And finish it.
Photo: arkuin / Flickr Creative Commons