In Others’ Words: Talent

Talent and table salt Stephen King 11.25.13

There’s something to be said for talent. 

I do believe talent counts for something — a lot of things. Talent is the first thing that opens doors for us — the first thing that catches someone’s eye.

You join a choir or an art class or write a short story for middle school English class … and someone — a teacher, perhaps — takes notice. They encourage you.

Talent lands you a solo. Or a blue ribbon in a regional art show. Or a position on the school paper.

But Stephen King is right too. (What? I’m going to argue with Stephen King? Well, maybe someday — but not today.) Look around you: You are surrounded by lots of talented people.

The question is: How are you going to move from the talented crowd to the successful crowd? 

That’s where the hard work comes in. And if you look closely at the definition of hard work the words “never quit” are tucked in the small print.

In Your Words: How has talent open doors for you? And how has hard work helped you achieve your dreams? 

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  1. November 25, 2013, 6:40 am   /  Reply

    I saw a sign over a writer’s office years ago: “Inspiration is 99% perspiration”–I like that. I was apparently born w/ a healthy amount of tenacity which has generally served me well in getting things done, as long as I’m clear in my target focus. Still prayerfully working on that sometimes.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:22 pm   /  Reply

      You, my friend, are both talented and tenacious. I have seen both in your life.

  2. November 25, 2013, 7:18 am   /  Reply

    Stephen King is right, but he’s also wrong.

    I got a PhD through hard work and little talent (I had the lowest GPA ever to achieve a PhD at UC San Diego, and they changed the rules after that to make sure it wouldn’t happen again).

    But in writing…no. Talent is not cheap. From the perspective of being able to write something as complex and difficult as a novel, it may look simple. But for most people it’s impossible. It takes a huge amount of talent to simply get here.

    And, yes, it takes hard work. But hard work alone will not produce good writing, and hard work will not convince readers to go past the first paragraph.

    Only talent does that.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:23 pm   /  Reply

      If anyone was going to disagree with Stephen King today, Andrew, it would be you.
      I am so thankful for you, my friend.
      I really am!
      Don’t stop being you!

  3. November 25, 2013, 7:35 am   /  Reply

    Hard work is the oxygen that talent needs to stay alive. I got 2 rejections from my agent before she offered representation. I also have a mentor who came alongside me and kept me going through the twists and turns of the wild rollercoaster of a learning curve.
    I also think a ‘forged in steel’ work ethic is a pre-requisite for a writer.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:24 pm   /  Reply

      I think a writer needs the hide of an armadillo, i.e. we need to not be so sensitive — even though our very sensitivity is what makes us better writers.
      I like how you said it: “Hard work is the oxygen that talent needs to stay alive.”

  4. November 25, 2013, 7:48 am   /  Reply

    Great post, Beth. And I like the quote. As I was thinking about this, it seems like, to a degree other elements also come into play. For example, calling and belief that one can do it.

    Calling, at least for Christians, is part of what can lead to success. When God “places a calling” on someone to do something, I believe He enables the person to do it, if he/she will work to accomplish that which He’s called them to.

    Belief plays a huge role in determining success in anything, including writing. Do I believe I am capable of writing this book? If I don’t, I might as well give up now. For me, belief that God gave me this story to write, rather than giving it to someone else to write, and belief that He will enable me to write it, as long as I do my part (study and apply craft, seek Him for direction, be teachable when others show me how to do things better).

    I guess this doesn’t quite answer your questions. 🙂 I have had talent land me solos at church. But I know I’m not good enough to compete in American Idol. Hard work has landed me contest finals in writing, but also reminded me that I have a ways to go to get my story ready to query. Hard work is what will “get me there,” so to speak.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:25 pm   /  Reply

      Here’s the funny thing about belief, Jeanne:
      Belief can waver.
      And that’s where calling comes in. Calling backs up belief when it stumbles … when it questions … when belief asks, “Are you sure about that?”

  5. November 25, 2013, 8:54 am   /  Reply

    A Twitter friend posted recently, “It is gift, then hard work over many years as you LEARN to perfect and get good at what you do, then the dream will come true…plan it!” I’m an optimist at heart and I agree with this. But I also know that the AMOUNT of hard work it takes to learn and perfect, whether its writing, music, art or whatever, is sometimes more than many will bear. It’s the persistent hard worker, those who persevere, who eventually attain their goal.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:21 pm   /  Reply

      Beth, you know how sometimes you know that God is trying to tell you something when you receive several reminders about the same thing? Had to share a quote that arrived in my InBox today:

      “If people knew how hard I worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful.” Michelangelo 1475-1564

      • November 25, 2013, 1:31 pm   /  Reply

        Thanks for sharing the quote, Kathy! And yes, I love it when God repeats himself through things I’m reading or through songs I hear.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:26 pm   /  Reply

      … and that is why I love the quote: It is always too early to quit!”


  6. November 25, 2013, 9:23 am   /  Reply

    There’s a quote by Tim Tebow I really like: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” At least, I think that’s how it goes. But yeah…a dose of natural talent is great. Like you said, it can open the initial doors. But it needs hard work to back it up and take it to the next level. I’ve worked very hard on the writing thing…and it has paid off in a dream-come-true publication story. I mean, the credit there really goes to God…it just does. But I did work hard and I think it honors God when we work hard toward the dreams He’s planted in our heart.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:27 pm   /  Reply

      Now why am I not surprised that you quote Tim Tebow?

      All joking aside, yes, hard work takes talent to the next level. Agreed.

  7. November 25, 2013, 10:06 am   /  Reply

    I hear you on the talent thing. For me, music came easy, so I didn’t put that much effort into it. Writing was a different story. I didn’t naturally possess the talent, but I wanted it. Oh did I want it! It’s where we focus our energy that we grow. Period.

    • November 25, 2013, 1:27 pm   /  Reply

      Good perspective, Crystal: where we focus our energy, we grow.

  8. November 25, 2013, 2:51 pm   /  Reply

    I have a cross-stitch piece that says: Success is that place in the road where preparation and opportunity meet. But too few people recognize it because too often it comes disguised as hard work. I believe you need talent, but often it’s wasted because people don’t do the hard work to develop it. Great post!

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