Clare Davidson

Writing without compromise

Talent versus practise


In arts and sports, we often talk about "talent" and how some people have it and some people, quite simply, don't. Is it therefore impossible for someone without "talent" to ever be as good as someone who does, no matter how much effort and practise they put in?

I find that a very depressing notion.

What is talent? Is it truly an intangible thing that some people are blessed with? Or is it the end result of years of hard work and dedication to one particular passion?


If it's the latter, do we simply cheat ourselves out of "talent", by not sticking at anything long enough? Can anyone, if they work hard enough, become a gold medalist at the olympics, or a prima ballerina? Can anyone become a New York Times best selling novelist, or a world renowned violinist? Is it more that we fail to push ourselves, than that we are lacking some magic quality?

?????????????????????????????If talent is an intangible thing that people are blessed with, do we all have our own? Is it more a case that we have to discover what our talent is, rather than that some of us have none at all? If this is the case, how do we find our talent? How do we discover the one thing we're born to be amazing at?

Every week, I take my daughter dancing. She does a lot at the moment (over 4 hours across two days), as she's preparing for a show, a competition and her next ballet exam. She's not the best dancer in her group. Some of the girls she dances with would definitely be described as talented. What matters is she loves dancing and tries hard every week and, most of all, she has fun. Recently, her hard work and commitment paid off, when she was awarded a distinction in her Primary Modern exam. Talented or not, she has proven she can do brilliantly. I believe the same is true for all of us. If we set our minds to it, a lack of natural talent isn't a barrier to success.

I realise I've asked a lot of questions and given very few (if any) answers. However, I'd love to know what you think about these rambling thoughts. Does talent exist? Do we all have a talent? Or are only a lucky few destined to be great at something?

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On 28/01/2016 dasteroad said: As I understand it, talent is what makes the difference between people that receive the same training. We all have seen it: we've all had that one friend in middle school who could draw a sort of "anime style" without having had any special training, while we could barely doodle (or maybe we were that one artist friend!). As we grow up, we generally realize how overrated talent is, and how it doesn't save you from having to work hard. Talent maybe makes things a little easier at the start, but you'll still have to climb your learning curve eventually - and it might even be harder for a talented individual, because they're not used to having to work for long to obtain results! This is why I don't really understand why we use "talented" as a compliment: talent is cheap, people just have it or not. Worthiness lies in hard work, which is something you choose. That said, I won't lie: a lacking talent can definitely be overcome by hard work, but on the far end of the spectrum, a complete MISSING talent could be a daunting task to overcome. One can study good writing rules all they want, only to discover they don't just have much to say in the first place. I am well aware that I am completely inept at sports: the fact that even very simple things always required me a huge effort to get right, means that I never really enjoyed any kind of sport to the point of investing the extra time and energy in it. So yes, while I do think that hard work wins over talent in general, I also think there's just some things that don't work for some people.

On 28/01/2016 Clare Davidson said: Thanks for commenting! I think that's a good way to think of it: that talent gives an initial boost at the start. I also agree that there are some things people genuinely aren't good at. I'm also not good at sports. If I practise, I can draw. The more I practise, the better I get, but I get rusty very quickly if I stop and have to start all over again!

On 28/01/2016 Jennette said: Great post Clare! And I think I'm in a similar line of thought. I think there is talent, people born with an innate ability to do certain things, but even that ability needs to be molded, sharpened, polished, etc. But that doesn't mean those without the talent can't learn how to do something, but I'm not sure we could ever reach the level of mastery that "talent" can bring with the same amount of work/training. It is a complex topic and I'm sure we could find examples to go either way with it.

On 28/01/2016 Clare Davidson said: Thanks for commenting, Jennette. You're right: even people with natural talent need to work at it, especially with regards to honing and polishing.

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