Friday, September 22, 2006

Talent vs. Craft vs. Persistance

Interesting question, Lyda. I don't think I agree with you on the basic point, but I'm pretty close to you on the end conclusion.

I'd say that talent definitely exists, but that it's a minimum condition. There seem to be, at least in my experience, some people who simply don't have the right wiring for writing fiction. But they're a minority. There are also a tiny minority of people who seem to be able to write wonderful stuff from the first word they put on the page.

But for the vast majority of folks it's about craft and persistance, and I'd argue that persistance is the more important virtue for a writer.

I have a formula for writing success that I give my students and anyone who wants to know: Publishing is about 15 percent talent, 15 percent luck, 20 percent craft, and 50 percent banging your head against the wall until you knock it over. Your forehead heals, the wall doesn't.

In other words, talent helps, but no more than luck, and a lot less than craft and persistance.

1 comment:

Muneraven said...

I don't like the word "talent" because it is fraught with so much cultural baggage. But I do think that some people have an aptitude for writing while others do not. And people who don't seem to have much, if any, aptitude for writing but who talk about wanting to write very often don't want to write at all, they want to BE a writer. And they often equate being a writer with being famous, rich and famous, beloved by readers, etc.

However, I think your point is well taken when you say that persistence is more important than aptitude. I just think aptitude sometimes actually is the driving force behind persistence in some people.