Out of My Head 3: Talent and Craft

Let’s say for the sake of discussion that creativity is to talent as craft is to technique.  One is a subset of the other, each one-half of the writing experience.

Craft is objective.  It’s the external process; rules that can be taught.  It’s scholarly old men over the course of centuries deciding how grammar, punctuation, and story structure work.  Creativity is the internal process; it’s subjective, and comes from a different place altogether.  It’s the art that informs and gives meaning to craft.

Writing then is the act of maintaining the balance between craft and creativity.

I don’t put a lot of stock in talent for its own sake.  You have what you have; either you’re born with it or you’re not.  Talent can be squandered, ignored, thrown away.  Quoting author Steven Barnes: “Attitude, not Aptitude, is the best indicator of future Altitude.”

Relying on talent isn’t enough.  It’s a dead end.  You can’t control talent, but you can control craft.  You need the ability to learn craft, and become good at it.  A perfectly fine story can be written using nothing but technique.  Many authors do.  I don’t recommend it, but that’s just me.  That’s my blue pill.

Creativity is the part of ourselves that wants to play.  Can it be taught?  I honestly don’t know.  Creativity can be nurtured, most definitely; stimulated, encouraged to grow.  The spark is already there, in all of us.  Our child-selves utilized it every day.

Our make-believe worlds were not “make-believe” at all.  They were real.  But then what happens?  We either hold on to our creativity, nurture it, allow it to broaden and mature, or we lose it.  Even worse, we forget it was ever there.

All we really need to do is remember.

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