From David Farland:
As authors, we’ve all read stories by authors that make us think, “Wow, I wish that I had his/her talent!”
We’re trained to believe that writing well is somehow . . . mystical. We’re taught that we have to be born with talent, or perhaps a muse must whisper into our ears.
But good writers don’t rely on inspiration. They don’t use “talent” as a crutch. They don’t need luck. Instead, they develop skills.
. . . .
But for everything that you do easily, you’ll find that there are another ten skills that you struggle with.
For most people, writing at all is hard. Most people don’t even discover what natural talents they have until they’ve written for a million words or more.
So forget about talent for a bit. Too many people born with a specific talent for writing will lean on it so much, they never develop the rest of the skills that they need to become master storytellers. As a new writer, I looked around at the most talented beginners, and used to wonder which would be my biggest competition later in life. Guess what? They all gave up long ago. Many of them never wrote more than one award-winning novel.
. . . .
When I was in my twenties, a researcher discovered that the average writer takes seven years to go from becoming a “novice” to the point where he’s published. I began looking at other writers and soon realized why: most of them spent far more time talking about writing in writing groups (or online) than they actually spent writing. If you want to be a writer but haven’t written anything in three months, you’re probably not making much progress. Yes, you can learn a certain amount of information by talking about writing and by study, but many of the toughest skills can only be learned by practice.
. . . .
So I decided to “cram seven years of practice into six months.” I studied the craft diligently and wrote a great deal, composing poems, short stories, and novel chapters. Within six months I began to get rave reviews from fellow writers, and within a year I began to publish. I even won the grand prize in the Writers of the Future Contest. But mind you, for six months I spent 14 hours per day in practice. When my name made it on the cover of USA Today, a group in San Francisco, thought it would be funny to hold a similar contest—the “Writer with No Future Contest.”
Link to the rest at David Farland