There’s a dirty little secret about writing talent which editors and publishers don’t usually speak of, but which I’d like to share. That dirty little secret is this:
Writing talent doesn’t really exist.
As a matter of fact, there’s no such thing as innate writing talent, and the most important trait a writer can possess is just the opposite of innate or natural-born: it is a trait that must be willed and learned.
And more: that very act of will is part of the trait that’s the most important component in the personality of a true writer.
The most important thing is the desire to be a writer.
In my personal experience, both as a writer and also as an editor, persistence is the best measure of talent.
…the degree of one’s perseverance is the best predictor of success. It is some combination of ability and ego, desire and discipline, the produces good work. And the writer’s success or faltering can usually be traced to some abundance or deficit of those elements.
Her observation is not only accurate: it’s breathtakingly accurate.
And yet, in my experience also, most writers don’t understand this. Editors, however, do.
Since writing is in large part editing, it’s the editors — the true editors — who, in the main, grasp the full process even better than the writers.
Too often, writers regard the creative process as mysterious, or even mystical. Which it is not. It is complex, and it is difficult. But it’s not incomprehensible, incommunicable, insoluble, or unintelligible.
The veracity of this is indisputable: Writing, like anything difficult, requires first and foremost the burning desire.
Everything else follows from that.