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Some authors simply stumble upon their greatest gifts. But many writers are unaware of the hidden talents and strengths they possess.
At Writer’s Relief, we believe you might have a talent or aptitude you’re not yet aware of! But if you don’t go looking for it, your hidden strengths could remain unknown and untapped.So grab your deerstalker hat a la Sherlock Holmes—we’re going to help you uncover your secret writing abilities!
Everybody has talent, it’s just a matter of moving around
until you’ve discovered what it is. —George Lucas
5 Signs You Might Have Undeveloped Talent As A Writer
You feel like something’s “off” about your writing, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. When you look back on what you’ve written (and rewritten), you have a niggling sense that it’s not quite there yet. Revising (again and again) doesn’t seem to solve the problem.
You approach projects with dread instead of excitement. You have trouble getting in the mood to write. When you do sit down to write, your inspiration meter is stuck at 50 percent. You’re willing to put your butt in the chair to write—but that’s discipline, not happy eagerness.
You wish writing was more satisfying. When you’ve finished a long writing session, you feel more drained than energized. You know you love writing, but for some reason it just doesn’t give you the happy, satisfied sense of a job well done.
You know your writing is technically “good,” but it doesn’t resonate with readers. You’ve mastered the techniques of your genre, and you know the tropes. And yet, when others read your writing, their reactions aren’t as enthusiastic as you’d hope. Learn more: Good Writing That Doesn’t Get Published: 5 Problems That Sabotage Your Efforts.
You feel hemmed in when you write. For you, writing feels like straining and contorting. You feel confined by the parameters of your genre—and you assume this is how all writers feel when working on a project.
19 Ways To Pinpoint Your Hidden Talents And True Strengths As A Writer
Try all of the following methods to discover your hidden strengths and talents, or cherry-pick just a few that speak to your sensibilities.
Keep an open mind. The journey to discover your hidden talent as a writer may lead you on some surprising twists and turns. But if you are reluctant to embrace change, you could get stuck in a rut. Before you begin searching for your hidden talents, do some soul-searching to find out if you have any preexisting hang-ups that might prevent you from reaching your maximum potential. Learn to keep an open mind.
Ask yourself these questions. Sometimes, hidden talents remain hidden on purpose. If you haven’t discovered your true strength as a writer yet, might there be some underlying reason why?
Here are some questions that could help you get to the root of your reluctance to embrace your true writing strengths.
Am I writing what I want to write, or what I think I should be writing?
Am I letting fear of other people’s opinions influence what I put on the page?
Is there some advantage to continuing on my current course of action, rather than trying something new?
Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage
to follow it to the dark places where it leads. ―Erica Jong
Listen to yourself. When you sit down with friends to chat, what subjects do you find yourself talking about? What makes you so excited that you want to jump out of your chair? The things that light you up during casual conversation might also be the kernels of inspiration that can spark your creativity.
Observe your current interests. If you’re not paying attention to how you spend your free time, you might not notice that you are especially interested in a certain type of genre or subject matter—one that may or may not be reflected in your writing. Make note of what you do when you don’t have to do anything at all: That’s who you are deep down. That’s who you are as a writer.
Look back on your childhood joys. Often, the interests of childhood were formed before adult interferences (like financial obligations or self-consciousness) set in. Spend some time thinking about the person you used to be. What did you like when you were younger? What did you care about? Chances are, some of your original passions were abandoned as “frivolous” in adulthood—but they might be the key to rediscovering a long-forgotten talent.
Try new things. This one’s a no-brainer: Find out what you’re good at by trying things you’ve never tried before. If you suspect you might not be cut out for mystery writing or poetry, give them a whirl anyway. Even if you don’t advance beyond experimentation, what you learn will carry into everything else you write.
Just try new things. Don’t be afraid.
Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right? —Michelle Obama
Read outside your comfort zone. If you typically read historical fiction, it may be time to rocket into the future for some science fiction. Reading across multiple genres can expand your understanding of narrative and story; it can also teach you more about your own interests. Consider keeping a reading journal.
Acknowledge what you find interesting. If you are completely hooked on cozy mystery novels, but you are intent on writing the next great serious and somber work of American literature, there is some possibility that you are not being true to your authentic interests (and talents) as a writer.
Ask for positive feedback. Ask critique group members, beta readers, professors, and friends to answer this one single question: “What is the best aspect of my writing?” Compare answers to get a better sense of where your strengths lie. Then, consider how you can exploit your best talents as a writer through style, story, and voice.
Network with creative people. Seeking out the company of creative people who truly challenge you requires a courageous intellect and solid self-esteem. But if you can manage to connect with writers who challenge you—through writing groups like these—the rewards are manifold.
If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room,
you need to find another room. —Austin Kleon
Write what comes easily. If you find yourself agonizing over your writing, it’s possible that you might be trying too hard. Experiment with another style or genre, and see how that makes you feel. If the results suggest you’ve found a new strength, you may want to pursue the talent that comes naturally!
Write what doesn’t come easily. We know, we know—we just gave you the complete opposite advice. But sometimes, to grow your talent as a writer, you may need to push yourself into styles, genres, and formats that don’t feel comfortable. Either you will learn something about yourself and discover a new talent, or you’ll verify that your original style is your literary strength.
Keep a writing diary. Whether you’re writing a novel, story, memoir, or poem, spend a few minutes after each writing session to write about your experience. By keeping track of your feelings and responses, you may get a clearer sense of what you are truly passionate about doing and what you’re merely competent at doing.
Review everything you ever wrote. Search for common threads. Take a trip down your digital memory lane and investigate your old works—what appears again and again in your writing? Which passages seem especially emotional and memorable? What are you most proud of? In those discoveries you might find a latent hidden talent.
List your successes. Do all the works you’ve had published have something in common? Do your most acclaimed pieces show a comment element? When you review the pieces editors felt were good enough to publish, you might find an avenue for future explorations.
Go with the flow. “Flow” happens when you lose track of time when you’re writing—when you fully inhabit your work and your energy is focused. What gives you flow? Keeping a writing diary (as mentioned above) may help you determine how to choose new projects that will bring even more flow to your writing process.
Get schooled. Taking classes—interacting with others, generating new ideas, expanding your horizons—can be a fantastic way to discover hidden passions and talents.
HELPFUL HINT: No time for night school? That’s what YouTube is for! Experts in every field are regularly posting tutorials and videos, many of which are accessible at no charge.
Connect with a mentor or life coach. Working with someone who can see you in a way you don’t see yourself could be an important first step toward discovering your untapped abilities as a writer. Talk, listen with an open mind to suggestions, and see if a supportive expert can help you dig deep and become the writer you were meant to be. Learn more: How To Find A Writing Mentor.
Combine your interests in creative new ways. If your investigations and experiments don’t lead to new insights into your writing, consider combining your existing interests and talents to create something totally new. Cross genres, throw out the rules, take risks, and find your own way of contributing to the publishing world.
The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
5 Challenges That Can Stop You From Effectively Identifying Your Hidden Literary Talents—And The Solutions
Mistaking someone else’s passion for your own. Excitement and enthusiasm can be contagious. Be careful you don’t mix up someone else’s hidden talent with your own actual abilities.
Solution: Avoid getting caught up in others’ passions by having a firm, unshakable grasp of your own proclivities.
Confusing someone else’s idea of success with your own. As writers, it’s easy to feel a little envious when we see others being rewarded for following their muses. But while one person’s idea of success might mean making a fortune, your idea of success might be getting published in your favorite literary journal, or completing a writing challenge.
Solution: Write down your specific goals on an index card and keep it with you. If you find yourself tempted to be jealous of someone else’s success, remind yourself of your own goals by reading your own list. Learn more: Jealousy And Writers: Tips To Beat The Green-Eyed Monster.
Comparing who you truly are as a writer with who you wish you were. For better or worse, who you are as a writer may be inherent and unchangeable. Going against your own instincts could lead you down a path of frustration and possibly even failure.
Solution: Your talents are your talents. Accept your strengths and maximize your personal potential for reaching your own version of success.
Being unable to finish what you’ve started. When you’re in love with learning, exploring, and discovering, you may find it difficult to stay focused on one thing long enough to determine whether or not it is your truest calling.
Solution: Pay attention to what lights you up most. Then, make a plan/schedule/calendar so you can stick to your goals. Celebrate and reward yourself when you complete a project!
Having low confidence or low self-esteem. Jumping around from one project to another could be less a result of creative curiosity and more a symptom of inner turmoil.
Solution: Shore up your writer backbone by reading this important article: Our Seven-Day Plan To Boost Your Writer Confidence And Self-Esteem.
Decision Time! Should You Build On Your Existing Creative Writing Talents, Or Focus On Something New?
Miles Davis said it best: “Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”
To discover your hidden talents and your best strengths as a writer, be prepared for a long journey filled with false starts, dead ends, and potholes. When it comes to uncovering your hidden talents, there is no easy, one-shot solution.
So the most important thing you can do to discover your true strengths as a writer is this:
A sense of playfulness in your writing process will open up possibilities for new discoveries.
Once you have a clear sense of your true north as a writer, then it may be time to put your head down and charge forward single-mindedly toward your goal (at least until you’ve finished a project and can begin the process of “playing” once again!).
Can Writers Lean On Their Talent Forever?
Time and again, in many different ways, professional writers have made the point that talent—hidden or otherwise—can only take a writer so far. Without determination and discipline, talent will rarely materialize in the form of a completed project. Talent may steer your creative choices, but determination and passion will get you across the finish line.
Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. ―Kevin Durant
Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it. ―Lou Holtz
The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.―Émile Zola
Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.―Stephen King
Writer, Can You Help? Our readers would love to hear from you. Tell us your story: How did you discover your hidden strengths as a writer? What do you recommend?
Leave your thoughts in our comments section.