A post from Ilona Andrews’ blog.

Talent, what is it, why is it, how much does it matter in writing?

Short answer: I don’t know.

Longer answer: I think talent exists. The exact definition of it is harder to nail down.

Yep, that sounds about right. They go on, later in the post:

Some of us naturally read a little more actively than the others. We note how the words are put together. We instinctively identify natural sounding dialogue and then remember it. We tend to think more about what the characters experience. We think about our feelings, we think about other people’s feelings, we construct elaborate scenarios in our heads where we triumph over everyday evil that wronged us and so on. We collect witty comebacks. This is talent. …

Can someone without this vague talent write a good book? Absolutely. They will just have to work harder and it will take longer.

I think all this is correct. At least, I think it matches my experience. I think I have always, or as good as always, noticed how words are put together and paused over particularly beautiful sentences. I think I have always, or as good as always, thought about the experience of characters and written (in my head) additional scenes for characters. I have no idea what other grade-school students do in boring classes. That stuff about constructing elaborate scenarios is dead on for what I did in boring classes for many years before I ever actually wrote anything.

All of that constitutes practice. If you’ve done that kind of practice for many years before you ever write anything down, then yeah, I expect the first thing you write down is likely to be pretty good in at least some ways. Then people will call that talent. It makes sense that someone who doesn’t do that kind of practice for years and years as a kid will probably have to do more on-paper practice when she starts writing stuff down.

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1 thought on “Talent”

  1. So I guess vivid daydreaming does count toward practice writing, then. I’ve always done that, in the quiet spaces of my days. It’s just more formalized now that I have to dream my way through an actual plot instead of disconnected vignettes.
    Play as work; who’d have thought?
    I, too, have always stashed lovely lines and graceful phrases. Hopefully it pays off in my writing someday.

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