I am going to state a very unpopular truth: Not everyone is cut out to be a writer. Before you start talking about believing in yourself, following your dreams, and the power of the human sprit, let me ask a question: Will a 125-lb. man with asthma ever be a professional football player? Will the compact girl with short legs ever be a ballerina star? However much we protest that all things are possible, we all know, deep down, that the likelihood of the possibility coming true is very, very small.
Physical barriers are obvious, but we like to think that mental barriers are different. Saying anyone can become a writer is like saying that anyone can become a quantum physicist or a lawyer. Unfortunately, just because publishing and sharing has never been easier doesn’t mean that those who can call themselves “published authors” are actually good at their craft.
What Mike Wazowski Learned About Following Your Dreams
Remember Mike Wazowski, the Cycloptic green monster from Disney’s Monsters University? Mike wants nothing more than to be a Scarer, the monster in the closet (or under the bed) who scares the daylights out of little kids. Mike knows all of the right techniques and lingo. He aces every written test and knows every answer.
But he has one tiny problem: He isn’t scary. In fact, he’s mostly just cute.
Determined to prove that he can make up through practice what he lacks in aptitude, Mike pulls together a team of misfits and whips them into scary shape for the Scare Games.
As Mike fights for his dream, viewers recognize what Mike won’t admit: Mike will never be Scarer material, but he makes an awesome coach. He can pull skill out of anyone and turn him into a competitor worth screaming for. Mike’s journey to maturity involves recognizing that his real talent lies elsewhere, and in embracing a new and more productive dream.
What You Can Learn Too
Well-meaning family and friends often encourage aspiring writers to believe that passion equals talent. In doing so, the would-be writers are often robbed of finding their true talent, because of their energy spent pursuing an area in which they just aren’t gifted.
Can practice and instruction improve one’s skill? Absolutely. Is it possible that a non-writer can become a writer later in life by virtue of greater experience? I believe so. Might a person have just one great story inside him? Yes. So is aptitude a final test of someone’s potential? No. But passion is no substitute for skill, and aptitude is still a real factor.
If you believe yourself to be a writer, have your work evaluated by someone who has no prior relationship with you. This will assure you that you will be evaluated solely on your writing ability, and not on how much the evaluator likes you as a person.
If multiple witnesses have confirmed your talent as a writer, don’t stop there. You are not trying to become a good writer. Commit to becoming an excellent writer. This means reading widely, writing prolifically, and studying ceaselessly.
If evaluation shows that you are not a writer, don’t despair! This only means that a wonderful, new passion awaits you, something that matches your aptitudes and skills well. Embrace your true skill and enjoy the richness of knowing that you can be, not merely mediocre, but excellent.
What are you good at? What helped you to realize your aptitude for that activity?