No one is born knowing how to write, or how to play a musical instrument. Raw talent will only take a prodigy so far; even a child blessed with talent needs to hone his skills through training and practice. I often hear people lamenting an inability to write, and I think it’s not so much a lack of talent as it is a failure to develop skill through study and practice. They compare themselves to experienced, published authors who have practiced a lifetime – whose books also had benefit of good editors and book designers. At that point, they give up or begin to make excuses.
Too many people are easily frustrated if they are not able to perform with the skills of a seasoned player – be it in sports or music or any other endeavor, “straight out of the box.” It’s actually much more likely that someone lacking any special talent will learn and perfect their skills through practice, over time. And that requires patience and a willingness to fail, to fall, and to get back up and try again, repeatedly.
I know that when I played violin, in grade school, it sounded something like a sadist stepping on a cat that turned around and scratched the udders of an elephant cow. I gave it up. My daughter had more talent to begin with, but it wasn’t until she learned the value of diligent practice that her skill with the violin began to shine and take on a professional polish. She didn’t give up.
Sometimes, “giving up” is just an admission that we’re not all that interested in the pursuit in the first place. That’s okay – all the energy spent worrying about being labeled a “quitter” or feeling guilty over time not spent practicing is just counterproductive, then, and could be put to better use on other activities. Sometimes, “giving up” is only a fleeting urge that signals the need to do something else for a little while. When writer’s block strikes, for instance, I grab a camera and exercise other creative parts of my brain – I give the words a rest and communicate with my images.
“Giving up” on something we’re passionate about – feeling that empty, sorrowful place inside that will one day house regret – that usually stems from a lack of self-confidence and a fear of failure. There are no shortcuts to success. All the time spent bemoaning one’s inability to do a thing could better be spent learning to do it, but fear of failure – fear of looking foolish – too often holds us back.
Be willing to try, and try, and try again. That’s the only way to succeed.