Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Four Sources of Writing Talent

Writers are rarely able to evaluate their own talent. I’ve seen people who have never written a word in their life but call themselves authors. I’ve met writers who can make the most stunning prose, but they hardly write because they think they aren't good at it.

If you think you’re not an incredible writer, you might be wrong. If you think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, well, you’re definitely wrong.

While thinking of this, I came up with four sources of writing talent. Instead of judging yourself across the board, you can evaluate yourself by each thing individually. That makes it easier to improve.

Natural Ability

I discovered in college that English is one of the easiest majors if you’re made for it, but it’s a nearly impossible major if you’re not.

I met a freshman who wanted to be an English major, but she said she was a slow reader and she didn’t like writing papers. I told her good luck, and I meant it sarcastically. She switched majors, of course.

If you have the desire to write, you have at least a shred of natural ability. If you enjoy writing, you have even more. If you can coerce anyone into sitting down and reading your work, hey, you’ve really got something there.

People think this is the only key to being a good writer. There's more.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: read a lot, read broadly, read well, and then read some more.


There are many good authors that don’t have degrees in English. John Grisham is actually a lawyer. However, there are so many things you learn in school that you simply can’t learn anywhere else.

It’s important to learn as much as you can, even if it isn’t from school in a traditional setting. If you don’t have a degree and going back to school is infeasible, learn anyway. There are workshops, writing groups, classes, and books about anything you could possibly hope to know. The Internet is a great resource. Even movies and television programs can teach you. Interesting people are great resevoirs of knowledge.   


Creativity is a muscle; you have to work it. The more ideas you write down, the more ideas will come into your head. Pracitice makes writing easier. I highly recommend keeping a journal, carrying a notebook with you everywhere you go, using writing prompts, and scheduling a time every day to sit your butt in front of the computer and work.

Do whatever you have to do to write, write, write. Write like a maniac=grow into a pro.

If you don't think you're where a writer should be, Don't fret. You’re perfectly capable of improving in all of these areas.

RANDOM MEMORY: Once when I was watching a movie with a friend, the DVD froze. My friend didn't want to get up to fix it, so she tried to fix it with her mind.

"I don't think that's going to work," I told her.

With a bright smile on her face, she said, "It doesn't matter. I can believe in myself!"

That's such a great attitude. I believe in you, too.

Blog Post of the Day: Nathan Bransford on passion and striving to write.


  1. interesting...I like this post a lot. It makes me want to major in english. You're such a good write Teralyn!!

  2. love this! Especially the reminder that creativity is a muscle. :)


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