Youve Got It Or You Dont

There are those who say, "You've got it, or you don't. There's no substitute for talent." Talent—what part does it play in all of this? How do you know if you've got any? What if you don't? Can you get some? How much do you need? Is it necessary? Is it worth worrying about? Well, I can tell you: There's no special talent needed to write publishable stories—all you need is your own emotions and your own life experience. In the other arts—music or painting, for example—you may need a special, inborn talent. But writing is different.

It's different because life skills are writing skills. Everyone has a full set of emotions and plenty of dramatic, painful, and exciting experiences to draw on. You have more than enough inside you already than you'll ever be able to use. That doesn't mean you have to write about yourself or your personal experience. But what you have in you now is enough to imagine any kind of story you choose. Plus, the standards for publication aren't high. Plenty of talentless writers are making fortunes. Look around. They're not hard to find.

Have you ever heard the saying "It's ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration." Well, it is never truer than when referring to writing. And 90 percent is a damn good average—plenty good enough to get published. Now, that's not to say there isn't such a thing as talent or genius and that it doesn't come into play at some point. But that point is for something like the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award or the Nobel Prize, but not for making a living or writing a bestseller. Most successful writers don't get those big awards. The only talent you need to be successful is a talent for work. Storytelling is an acquired skill, not an inborn talent. There is a substitute for talent. It's work + craft. Work hard, learn your craft, and the rest will take care of itself. Craft is the issue. You have everything else already. No special talent needed.

OK, let's get back to our examination of blocking.

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