Friday Food for Thought

Dear Sarah: On Talent

Dear Sarah,

My question if you have a passion, how do you know if you have a talent for it? What has been your experience with coming to realize you were gifted and talented in writing. You said you only had a small support group. You went on and found your talent after horrific odds. Were you able to reproduce what your ex-husband threw away?

Marian Ann J.

Hi Marian!

Thank you for posting this question the other day on my video! (and no, the birds did not take my tiara…ha ha).

First, regarding knowing if you are talented in your passion. There is a great book called 10,000 Hours by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, Gladwell talks about how it takes 10,000 of practice to become “great” at something. I believe that this holds true for so many things: dancing, singing, acting, painting, writing. Not every is born with natural talent. Maybe some people are. But, for the most part, we have to practice.

Let’s check out the math:


What this chart states is that if I only practice one hour a day, seven days a week, it will take 27+ years to reach the 10,000 mark. If I practice 10 hours per day, it will take just under three years. Typically, people fall somewhere in-between (unless it is one of my kids when I used to try to get then to play a musical instrument in which case it would have taken either one of them 192 years to learn how to play the violin).
So, that is the first start. If you start tackling your passion by practicing, you can be assured that you will improve. No debate there. And, if you have an innate talent, the time will definitely diminish quickly.

But, as I stated in a previous letter to Julia C. who asked about writing and publishing books, just because you are talented doesn’t mean you will be a success. Just watch those talent reality shows. For every person who makes it to the stage, there are 10,000+ people who tried out. And think about all of the talented singers or actors who try out but are passed over.

Does that make them any less talented?

How about actors or actresses that are horrible actors? How did they make it to the big screen when other talented people did not? I suspect that comes from knowing people or being in the right spot at the right time.

The bottom line is that if we have a passion for something and are talented, we will keep doing what we love. If we have a passion for it and are not talented, we will keep doing what we love. Anyone who follows their passion with the sole purpose of being the best or the most successful or the highest paid…well, that’s not really their passion, is it?

God rewards us for following our hearts, not our focus on prideful things like money or status or capturing the limelight. Look at how many celebrities HAVE achieved big money and celebrity status but are unhappy. Drugs, divorce, lawsuits, financial ruin, etc. Of course, not all celebrities face that but there sure are a lot of them, aren’t there?

I believe that both practice and passion will lead anyone to talent in whatever field they pursue. But you cannot make short-cuts.

BTW, I tend to write between 35 and 50 hours a week. Since I’ve been writing for years and years (and years and years), I hit 10,000 long ago. But I still practice. I still research. I still study. I will never be able to know enough to make me truly feel that I am “talented.” I’m constantly surprised when people write that they love my books, characters, writing, settings. Even if they didn’t, I’d still be writing. 😉

Hugs and blessings,


P.S. In regard to my ‘lost’ manuscripts, I managed to salvage Fields of Corn and Gypsy in Black. But I lost at least eight others that I have not been able to reproduce. 🙁

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