There’s a saying that writing is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration, and I really believe this is true. You don’t have to be the most talented person out there to succeed; you just have to be the one who sticks it out and keeps practicing.
I’m sure there are many writers who are naturally more talented than me. I don’t say that to be self-deprecating or modest. It’s just true. But I also really enjoy writing, and know that it's something I'm prepared to put a huge amount of effort into.
It’s hard to finish an entire book, and it’s even more difficult to finish two, or three. Not everyone will actually manage it, including a lot of those people who are more talented than me. And if you don’t finish the book, then you’ve got nothing for others to read, and all the talent in the world will get you nowhere.
The same goes for other forms of creativity, or even just learning a new skill. When you first start, you won’t be good at it. Unless you have some kind of freakish talent for whatever you’re doing, you’re going to suck. But for those with a bit of determination, and a whole lot of focus, you will get better.
Take the piano lessons that I had as a child. I was awful. I was probably the bane of my music teacher’s life. But if I’m honest about it, it all came down to a lack of practice. I never practiced, and I used to wing it at my lessons. I didn’t really want to be there, and it showed.
But if you look at other things I have done in my life, like learning to ice skate, or doing yoga, or even karate which I have only just started, I’ve done much better at all of them.
What’s the difference? The first thing is that I’m probably more interested in them. But the second is that I’ve applied a bit of focus and determination to the process of learning. I’ve actually practiced, and kept going when it got a little tougher.
The same applies to a creative skill. I used to be fantastic at drawing when I was at school. I loved it, and often got top of the class. But I haven’t done it in years, and I know that I would be terrible if I took up a pencil and tried to draw today. But I firmly believe that if I practiced, and took some time to relearn the skills of drawing, I could get good again.
So you need to practice, practice and practice some more. Never give up, never stop, and always keep learning. There is always something more you can discover, someone new you can meet, or some new way to look at a problem that will create something new.
I have been a writer now for many years. I have a story that I wrote when I was about 12 years old that is one of my first efforts, but I started writing seriously in my spare time about 12 years ago, and have been a journalist for the last ten years.
I’ve learned a lot over that time; I’ve finished three books, numerous short stories, and too many magazine articles to count. I don’t know everything there is to know about writing, and sometimes it’s a difficult road to follow.
But one thing I can promise you: I will never give up.