In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami lists his three essential qualities needed to be a writer.
The first, Talent, is the most elusive of the three. Murakami tells the story of being at a baseball match and upon one particular strike of bat against ball, he made the decision to write a novel. He entered the completed novel in a competition and won it. He continued to write and he became an internationally bestselling writer.
Murakami clearly had talent.
But what about you and me? How do we know if we have talent. I’m not a great fan of baseball and I’ve never entered a competition.
I think that talent is a mixture of desire and practice. Having worked with a number of rugby players who have an easy level of physicality and skill, but have never achieved their potential because they didn’t have the right amount of desire or the discipline of practice.
Are you talented? When you write, do the words begin to flow, and do the scenes and dialogue seem to fall into place? If so, you probably have a measure of talent.
Focus. Whether you sit or stand to write, do you actually write? Or do you check your email and social media, flip between your playlists, polish your keyboard, or panic because you aren’t wearing odd socks?
If you can turn up, write, and get on with the job, then you have focus.
Endurance. This trait is probably in there because Murakami is a runner. It is in the title of the book, after all. He has completed a number of marathons and endurance is obviously a key quality in achieving those finishes.
For a writer, Endurance is also necessary. You have to finish the novels. You have to send them out to your agent or a publisher – maybe more than one for both of those. There are many stories of now famous novelists repeatedly sending out their manuscript before it was eventually published.
Write some more.
Finish the book.
Send it off. Probably send it off again X-number of times. Write the next one. Etcetera. Etcetera.
Remember you are a writer. Being published and making money from it is the unexpected benefit of being a writer.
Perhaps being a talented writer is the understanding that you are a writer.
Like Murakami did in that moment when the Yakult Swallows batter, Dave Hilton, got a hit down the left field line at Jingu Stadium.