August 2013

Talent vs. Hard Work

// Author: Jordan Locke // 17 Comments

Writers get asked the question all the time: Do you think talent or hard work is more important to success? In my case, the answer is obvious. It’s definitely hard work.

I never considered myself a good writer. Math and art were my strong subjects in school. Writing? It may have been my weakest.

When a scene popped into my head ten years ago, I thought it could make a good movie, or maybe even a book. After jotting down four pages, I stuck it in a drawer. Writing wasn’t really my thing.

Seven years ago, I was driving home from work, listening to WNPR, as the radio host read the first paragraph from one of her favorite novels. It got me thinking, how would mine start? One idea led to two. Two led to four. The ideas multiplied.

I had to write them down. I needed to write them down. Within weeks, I had a hundred handwritten pages—the entire plot.

I hit the computer. Word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, I wrote. Within three months, I had a finished draft.

It was awful.

The thing is, I had no delusions. I knew it was bad. If I was going to get it in shape, I needed to learn everything I could about writing. Instructional books and blogs—even a professional editor—taught me all about the craft of writing. I applied those lessons to my manuscript. A year later, it was better. Much better. I sent out queries and opening pages to agents. And guess what?

No takers. Not even a nibble.

I am nothing if not persistent. I studied the craft, read more inside and outside of my genre, went to conferences and kept writing. Five novels and hundreds of rejections later, I finally got an offer of representation from a top agent. Two, actually.

Even now, I’m not the world’s best speller. My first drafts are a mess. But I’m learning. Always learning.

I’m sure some would disagree with me (my agent being one of them), but I’m telling you, I am not talented. Hard work got me where I am. If you’re going to make it as a writer, you’re going to have to work at it.

So get to work!

Tell me in the comments section: Do you think talent or hard work wins the day?

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