Talent vs Skill

Posted by Derek Chamberlain on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Under: Craft

The Roundtable Podcast is amazing. It is interesting, insightful, and instructional, not to mention alliterative. They put out two shows a week. One is called “Twenty minutes with…” and is a discussion with the week’s guest host about writing, editing, and their careers. The ‘twenty minutes’ usually runs a bit longer than twenty minutes, but I’m still left wanting more. The second part of the show is the ‘Workshop Episode’ where a guest writer brings a work in progress to Dave, Brion, and the guest host, and gives a synopsis of it and then has it workshopped. Listening to the workshop is an incredible learning experience. The hosts throw ideas at the story, at all different aspects of the story - from character creation, to world building, to plot – and the guest writer takes what is offered or lets it slide. This podcast has an ‘explicit’ rating, more for the use of ‘vulgar’ language than for anything else. It’s a podcast I highly recommend subscribing to.

Today I want to talk about a pair of episodes that aired in June last year. The ‘Roundtable Goes to Balticon’ episodes, of which there is a part one and a part two. In these episodes, Dave plays recordings of a dozen authors’ replies to the same question: “Is talent something you’re born with, or is it something you acquire?” 

I found the answers to this question inspiring. The consensus seemed to be that, while there is such a thing as natural talent, it is of considerably less relevance to success than enthusiasm and hard work. As someone who has often struggled with the idea that I am talentless, and therefore should give up my dream of being a published novelist, I found this to be both satisfying and inspirational. Talent is something you can develop though hard work. If you love what you’re doing, and work hard at it, you can go a lot farther than someone with amazing talent who rests upon the laurels of that talent and doesn’t put in the work necessary to really develop it.

Mozart was brought up at least once, as being the epitome of natural Talent. But the thing that most people forget about Mozart was that, talented as he was, he also practiced a lot, developing that talent. 

It’s a relief, really, to learn that, what it all comes down to is hard work. A relief because, well, hard work is something we can all do if we put our minds to it. There is a magic trick to success. Practice. It might not make perfect, and really, who would want it to? But it is the road towards perfection, and on that road lies personal satisfaction with work well done, and through that, success.

In : Craft 


Tags: talent skill "roundtable podcast" writing 
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Meet the scribbler


I'm a writer, editor, indie publisher, and dedicated Magic Spreadsheet user. Originally from Adelaide, Australia, I've been living in Japan since 1995. I've had a life-long interest in writing and in speculative fiction. My first book was published in mid-2014.
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