Friday, January 27, 2012

Never Give Up . . . Good or Bad Advice for Aspiring Writers?

I've read the titular tip for developing authors at least fifty times at different websites. So have you, probably. The wording varies a little, but the spirit of the thing spans all of them: keep trying, aim for the stars, you can have anything you want badly enough . . . never give up. With enough dedication and determination you can achieve anything.

But what about talent? Is it considerate to endlessly encourage people with little aptitude for writing to keep at it, thus setting them up for perpetual disappointments? And what about the agents and direct-submission publishers who must deal with the relentless deluge of inferior material from writers who have been told to never stop trying?

Like it or not, the most sincere desire to excel at a thing and a blood oath to work tirelessly and relentlessly toward that goal doesn't guarantee that one will ever excel, or even be much good at all, at the thing. We can't have whatever we want just because we want it a lot. I could paint pictures on canvas four hours a day for five years under the tutelage of the best painters in the country and still not be any damn good at it because I don't have the innate aptitude for it. No matter how badly I might want to be a professional painter, it's not going to happen. It doesn't mean I can't do lots of other things, just that I can't be an artist. Now, do you think my peers do me a service if they continue to encourage me to keep at it, even when they can plainly see I'll never approach much proficiency in it no matter how long and how hard I try?

What do you think?