Thursday, September 27, 2012

The relationship between work and talent

I was reading Nicole's latest post about conquering our writing weaknesses.  Inside her post she had a quote: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

I love quotes and words of wisdom and this one stayed with me after I closed the browser.

When you are an accountant (a subject I majored in), working hard can compensate for initial lack of mathematical talent - all you have to do is practice and practice some more.  Or when you are a lawyer (like me), drafting and redrafting an agreement or a submission will make you better - it is not that hard to pick up the mechanical skills.  All you really need is patience, time, and hard work.

But when it comes to creative writing, can hard work really compensate for lack of talent?  Can someone with just a good measure of talent get better by working consistently?  Or is the resulting novel or story going to be only as strong as that person's underlying talent?

I understand how hard work can improve one's writing if that person does, in fact, have a way with words that is combined with an impressive imagination.  But what if all you have is good language and grammar skills but not enough imagination?  How can you improve that?

Imagine a story where the words sign, but the story goes nowhere because of lack of imagination.

Or am I looking at this from the wrong angle?

11 comments:

  1. I totally think hard work will trump talent even when creativity is involved. There is so much craft that goes into writing a story that, even if it takes longer for the not-so-much talent person to achieve success, if the talented person doesn't do the work involved, it is unlikely they will make the grade, either. Did that make any sense? :)

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  2. Everyone has imagination. It is putting the ideas in an interesting way that captures the reader. That takes skills and they can be learned, of course. Talent cannot drive anything if hard work is not involved. You'd never know if you were talented or not until you have learnt your craft and put your imagination to work... I think...

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  3. You do sound kind of scientific and I agree that we all kind of rise to our own level of shall I say the horrible cliche? incompetence. LOL I agree that hard word and talent have to go together.

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  4. There are wildly imaginative stories that aren't well written that people love. And there are stories that are more commonplace that are excellently written that people love. I think one is a product of tons of natural talent and not as much hard work, and the other is a product of not as much natural talent, but tons of hard work. People love both kinds of stories. When it's really magic, though, is when it's a wildly imaginative story that is excellently written.

    It definitely takes some of both talent and hard work to succeed at all, but if you have tons of one, and not as much of the other, you can still make it. At least imo. :)

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    1. That is exactly what I meant and you said it better :-)

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  5. Having worked with a lot of kids that think they don't have imagination, I can absolutely say YES! Imagination is something that can be exercised, creativity can be developed and inspiration comes more easily after lots of practice. If you're uncertain, try this: When you wake up write three pages longhand every morning. It doesn't matter what you write, just go where your mind takes you. The first couple of days you'll probably record shopping lists, but after a while you brain recognises this as time to get creative and stories form.

    Hard work is far more important than natural born talent when it comes to writing in my judgement.

    Ugh - your word verification hates me, third try coming up.

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  6. Hmmm... Nice quote. Agree with the above comment. And now I need to work hard...

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  7. I love your blog and am your newest follower. I was hoping that you could pop on by my blog and return the favor! :-)

    www.enjoyingtheepiphany.com

    Thanks,
    Sarah

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  8. Zufaellig bin ich vor ein paar Tagen auf ein Zitat gestossen, das zu diesem Thema passt. Und du magst ja Zitate.
    "Die Inspiration existiert, aber sie muss dich bei der Arbeit finden.“
    Danke, dass du ein Follower meines Blogs bist. Und ich hoffe, du hast "Sandy" gesund ueberstanden....

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    1. Hallo Barbara - ja, Zitate mag ich sehr :-)

      Und Du hast einen tollen fur mich gefundet!

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  9. Und wer hats gesagt? Pablo Picasso. Sorry. Hab ich vergessen zu erwaehnen, gehoert aber natuerlich dazu...

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