Tenacity Versus Talent
Just do it!
Most writers, at some point, find themselves wondering, Is this worth it? Anyone who’s ever practiced a sport or an instrument and ran into that nagging voice that wonders about effort expended versus value gained knows exactly what I’m talking about.
More times than I can count I’ve been confronted with writers’ doubts about what they’re doing, what they’re producing, whether they’re good enough, and whether their efforts are ever going to pay off. These are the nagging voices of our saboteurs, whether they’re telling us that we could be doing something more fun, something more worthwhile, or perhaps just that we don’t have what it takes, and that the people who are getting what we want—getting published, recognition, kudos—are just better than we are.
Writing talent is not something to be underestimated. I know writers who have very little discipline who have gone pretty far in their careers because of their talent. But there are far more writers who struggle to produce every day, who treat their writing as a discpline and find pleasure in the results, and more seldomly in the process. For writers who have “always written,” the flow of good writing can be a little bit like chasing the dragon. It can be that elusive space that you strive to get back to, and yet the very fact that you’ve been there makes the day-to-day that much harder.
Writing is hard. It is a passion and a hobby and a beautiful expression of self. But anyone who thinks you don’t have to work your butt off to create, especially something as massive as a book (or a screenplay—to honor my script-writing client) is operating under an illusion that stems from some romanticism about how writing is supposed to be. Writing is not supposed to be easy or seamless or always a pouring forth from our souls. Sometimes that happens. And those of us who know that zone may think that it’s the norm. I liken this to my yoga practice, though. There are probably one day in twenty or even thirty when it’s amazing, when I leave thinking, That was an awesome class. More often I feel like it was the hardest class I ever had and I don’t know how or why I keep on doing it. But I go back, time after time, because I love the way it makes me feel.
I told one of my writers recently that tenacity was more important than talent. I think this is true in life. There are those lucky few whose talent propels them along, but for most of us the desire to create and achieve and give birth to our dreams is the foundation upon which those very dreams are manifested. The dictionary defines tenacity as “seeking something valued or desired.” I wish for myself and for all of us that we be the type of people who seek out what we value or desire rather than the type of people for whom everything we desire comes easily. It’s the truism that nothing worth fighting for ever comes easily. And when it comes to building and manifesting your dreams, persistence is the thing that’s going to serve you above all else.
Until next month,