Why we shouldn't aspire to be “talented” writers

I’ve been thinking about the notion of being a “talented” writer this week, and I’ve decided that I don’t aspire to be one, and perhaps you might not wish to either.

Hear me out on this…

When I started writing again as an adult back in 2015, I was writing in the way I knew best back then. I was writing about where I was at in my life back then, and many of the posts I wrote were about happiness, a topic I was interested in at a time when I felt disconnected from the work I was doing. I was reading a bunch of books on happiness and around the theme of ‘positive psychology’ (I eventually left my corporate job to study a full-time Masters in the subject), and much of my writing was commentary on the facts I was reading and the things I was learning about this fascinating field often referred to as ‘the science of optimal functioning’, or even ‘the science of happiness’.

My writing back then is different to my writing now. It looks and feels different. I’ve been writing with some consistency for almost eight years now. And yet… I don’t see myself as a “talented” writer, nor do I aspire towards that.

Instead, I aspire to be the best writer I am capable of being.

When I think of the word “talented”, I think of the unhealthy comparisons that are made when we are at school, within families, or otherwise amongst social groups.

If you think back to when you were at school, what were the subjects you felt “good” at, and the ones you didn’t so much?

**You see, the word “talent” suggests some fort of innate, inborn, miraculous thing that either is or isn’t. As if to suggest “I’m either talented at this thing, or not”.

Can you see why that might be problematic when it comes to how we think of ourselves as writers?

The notion of “talented” feeds into the overwhelming pull of comparison that exists in the world today, both as children and as adults. That doesn’t feel good for me. And when I think of being “talented”, I can’t help but pit myself against other writers and writing I know of… those esteemed writers who are more well-known than I am, or fellow writers who have more social media followers or readers than I do.

Which is why, I don’t attach myself to that word “talented”, I don’t let it define me, and I don’t aspire to be a “talented” writer.

Instead, I wish to continue with my writing practice, to show up and practise with consistency.

In the last eight years, my writing has changed, I have become more of the writer I am supposed to become.

And, with continued practise and consistency with my writing, one year, two years, three years from now… I’ll have become more of the writer I am supposed to be.

Not talented, or not talented. Just exactly the writer I am supposed to be, with a writing voice that has developed and evolved as a result of the continuous effort I have made to write.

I like the sound of that much more. How about you?


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