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Creativity Conundrum #4: 
A Show of Talent

One creativity conundrum that I've had to deal with from time to time is the belief that I didn't have any talent. When people consider doing art of some kind like singing, dancing, painting, acting, directing, photography and the like, they don't tend to compare themselves to the middle of the road people involved in the creative endeavor. They compare themselves to the best. For example, a writer who is just starting out might say something like, "I could never be as good as J.K. Rowling." This might cause the writer to lose confidence and never complete even her first project. This is a shame, as it's usually not talent that pushes a creative person to the front of the field, it's hard work.

Let's define talent as an ability we're born with. For instance, maybe you're a natural fisherman who seems to know the ins and outs of the water amazingly well. You catch more fish than a normal person and with training and hard work, you could be one of the best in the business. Now let's say that you have this natural ability but you never actually go fishing. You don't live near any lakes or other bodies of water and your family never thinks to take you fishing because they have no idea of your natural talent.

The creativity conundrum here is that talent on its own is not enough, you need hard work and training to utilize that gift. Imagine that a childhood friend of this natural fisherman who is robbed of this gift, moves across the country to a bay area. This friend has no natural talent to fish whatsoever, but it's the only job he can find. He works hard at it, studies his craft and eventually becomes an asset to his fishing boat as a major player in the fishing community. This person without natural talent ended up becoming better than the fishing genius, simply because he worked at it, despite his initial ineptitude.

There are a lot of ways in which we trick ourselves into thinking we can't do something. Maybe we feel that it's easier. I had a teacher tell me once that I wasn't a good fiction writer and sometimes I'm still afraid to pick back up the pencil for that purpose. Maybe you had a parent or a friend criticize your creative endeavors. The way to overcome this creativity conundrum is to realize that it usually doesn't matter if you have talent in a particular area. If you work hard, study the great artists in your field and put in the time necessary, you will come up with something amazing.

Even if you didn't get into the best schools and have the best teachers, you can take what you've learned so far and add it to a course of self-study. With enough time and effort you can learn anything, including how to best harness your creative gift, natural or learned. 

Done with Creativity Conundrum #4: A Show of Talent? Go back to Creative Writing Tips. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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