Tenacity Over Talent


Let me tell you the story of two students.

One was a friend of mine back in the 70s. I was always in awe of him, because he had creativity and talent oozing out of every orifice he had. I was not as talented, but I was determined. He wrote screenplays, and was both clever and funny. The thing he didn’t have was a willingness to do whatever it took to succeed. When a teacher offered to edit his work, he immediately refused, stating that if it wasn’t accepted for the way it was, he never wanted it published.

The second student is one I know today. When I first met him in class, I saw that he had major challenges ahead of him in grammar, spelling and punctuation. His stories were full of clichés and initially I wondered if he would make it as a journalism major. But he has stuck with it, doing the grunt work necessary to raise his writing level, patiently listening to my criticism and doing seemingly impossible task for a newbie like writing the first 50 pages of a novel for my writing class. Even though he has a steep learning curve ahead of him, I see a positive future ahead of him.

The difference between these two is the difference that editors are always looking for. Talent is overrated; tenacity is not. It’s the secret to succeeding to writing. If you are willing to never give up, to do whatever it takes to succeed, you will get there. It may take decades–as it has for me–but it will happen.

Patience. Tenacity. Determination.

Just do it, and never accept no as an answer.

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