Passion, Talent, Skill: Of these, Passion is the Greatest

There was some talk the other day on the forum about why people write, what they get out of it, what sparks inspiration, etc. I sort of grew up thinking that everyone wrote. I mean, don’t we all write? But then later I learned that while we all have to write for work or school, it is very difficult for some people to write.

My son is one of these people. He can tell amazing stories, but the minute I sit him down to write them out, he goes blank, can’t think of the words, nothing. He’ll sit and stare at the paper and then in return we get back short, choppy third grade type sentences and he’s in the ninth grade!

There’s a certain talent, skill, and passion to writing that simply must be there to be successful as a writer, or even for someone who wants to write for a hobby. There are many writers who have the passion.

What about skill and talent? Are they necessary for being a writer?

Well, the obvious answer is, yes, they are necessary. However, I don’t think they have to be innate, exactly. I mean, skill can be learned. I feel I was born with talent and passion for writing, but looking back at my writing from 10 years ago, OMG, how it’s changed compared to what I write now. If I were to read my older stuff, with the eyes of an editor that I now have, I would have laughed myself silly thinking I had any right to call myself a ‘real’ writer.

Skill is learned. You practice, you read, you learn, and you write, write, write, and edit, edit, edit.

Talent. Is talent required to make it as a writer? Nope. It sure does help if you have some though. Talent only makes writing easier, but it isn’t what makes a writer good; it’s only what makes it easier for a writer to be good.

I also think that when you become very skilled at something, it then becomes a talent. Talent isn’t necessarily something you are born with, you know, and skill certainly isn’t.

So if talent isn’t required and skill can be learned, what is it that makes the difference between a good writer and a person who just write?

I visited Mercedes Lackey’s page, where in her biography, she said, “I began writing out of boredom; I continue out of addiction. I can’t `not’ write, and as a result I have no social life!”

This is me. This is how my life is. I have said many times over that I cannot NOT write.

I would rather die.

You think that’s melodramatic, but I’m being absolutely genuine when I say I would be miserable, pathetic and lose my spark of life if I were never able to write and create again. I would rather die.

I say I have no social life, and in reality, I don’t, at least, not in the way most think of as a social life. I rarely leave the house… my time is spent writing and researching and reading and writing and writing and writing. I do this because this is what I love. There is absolutely nothing I would rather do than write, most of the time. Writing takes precedent over eating, and yes (chuckle), writing often even takes precedent over sex!

I know there are nights writing came before sleeping, before bathing, before eating… writing IS me. I AM a writer.

I don’t know why. I only know I’m compelled, obsessed and addicted to it and I could simply not live without it.

Is every good writer like this? Nah, probably not. In fact, I know for a fact it’s not like this for all writers, at least, not to this extreme that it is for me. However, there are very few GOOD fiction writers who haven’t said at some point that writing is somehow a compulsion, obsession or addiction of some sort — whether it was just one story or writing in general.

So my thoughts are, if I can go from being a mediocre hobby writer with a passion and then move on to reading, learning, pushing, practicing, expanding and growing as a writer and get to where I am today, I know that if I keep doing this, 10 years from now I’ll be even farther along than I am right now.

It’s not the talent. It’s not the skill. It’s the passion that makes a writer great.

Now, the caveat is… you have to USE that passion to learn, push, improve and DO something with your writing. Passion alone won’t be enough, but it is the drive, the impetus, the hammer.

So if you are a writer right now, and you have the same feelings about writing I once had, the burning desire, the NEED to write… but you’re looking around and saying, “I’ll never be this good. I’ll never be as good as so and so. I’ll never…” or if you are feeling intimidated by those you think are ‘real writers’, and you don’t think you’ll ever measure up…

… well, just know that everyone starts somewhere and learn, grown, adapt, change… read, read, read, and then…

… write.

Don’t ever give up if you feel it.

Mark Victor Hansen, the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul once said, “Don’t give up if you really feel your dream and have a passion for it. That book was a calling. I was driven. It was truly a divine obsession.”

… if you have the passion in you, it won’t let you give up. Right now, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, wondering if you can ever make it as a writer, ever see or touch your dreams, remind yourself WHY you write, touch that passion, and then go sit down and write something.

Once you’re in that ‘zone’ again, you’ll not question yourself.

Keep writing.

Love and stuff,
Michy
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