Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Talent? No Problem.

On one of my email lists, someone mentioned not having enough talent to pursue larger markets. Talent is one of those words that sets me on edge because too many people look at it as the be all end all. Talent is nice to have because it allows to do things that normal people can't do. But talent only takes you so far in life. More important is drive, ambition, practice, hard work -- you get the picture.

People say I have writing talent. I don't know if that's true or not. What I do know is the writing part comes very easy to me and I can punch out a pretty good first draft on the first go round. Editors seem to like the work I produce. But I know a lot of successful article writers -- and even some fiction writers -- who have minimal writing talent but are high on the qualities that make a good writer.

To those thinking about writing as a business venture, rather than worry on whether or not you are a good enough writer, I have a few hints on how to make yourself a better writing businessperson.

-- improve your interview skills
-- learn to organize your notes
-- focus your marketing to one or two specific genres (for the record:
parenting and women's topics are the most popular writing genres and hence have the most competition)
-- there thousands of publications out there so look beyond the 10 magazines at the grocers check out rack
-- if you want to be a professional, approach the business professionally.
-- don't take rejections personally
-- ask for help. I have goal buddies and I used to have critique buddies. When I first started out, I worried that everything I wrote was awful and would get rejected. I think that happened once, and it wasn't bad writing (I later sold the article elsewhere) but mixed signals between me and the editor.
-- don't be afraid to fail. We all make mistakes and we all worry about offending editors or doing something stupid. It's rarely as bad as it seems.
-- talent is nice but will only take you so far. To paraphrase Ben Franklin (I think): Good writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.


Dawn said...

I have this quote pinned to the wall above my desk. (Sorry, I don't know where it comes from.

"More people have talent than discipline - that's why discipline pays better."

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

I completely agree with you. Talent can get you places, but only so far. If you don't practice or hone your craft, you'll be left where the talent ends and the hard work begins.