I’ve always been told I’m a talented musician. It’s something that comes naturally to me, and something I enjoy doing. What I don’t enjoy? Practicing. And so I never do it. I was the top violinist in my high school orchestra for a couple years, but I never practiced. Honestly. I got by purely on talent. Then I went off to college and took the basic orchestra class for fun. Hoo boy, did I learn fast. Not to play better. No, I knew music wasn’t in my professional future and so after a brief single-semester stint in that orchestra, I stopped playing so I could focus on my true love: writing.
See, I wasn’t passionate enough about music to put in the work required to excel. I also coasted too much on talent, not putting in even the basic minimum of practice required to improve myself past high school. It should also be said we had a terrible orchestra, in which the teacher didn’t even know how to play. (He was a wind player. Playing a flute versus a violin is not even similar.) Being top doesn’t mean so much if the overall quality if minimal.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I haven’t really played the violin in a more than decade. I still love music and can frequently be found singing to myself and occasionally in public and at church, but it’s not something I push myself to master.
Writing, on the other hand, is. I’m constantly writing things on scraps of paper, clever lines or plot points scribbled wherever I can find space. Anything and everything I can put to paper or keyboard makes its way there. I tell myself stories while driving down the freeway or while sudsing up my hair in the shower. It’s a never-ending process with me. I practice it. I do it. I am a writer.
The difference between this and music, for me at least? I’m so incredibly passionate about writing that the thought of stopping, of not picking up a pen again to tell stories, is nonsensical. Why would I ever stop? Why would I even consider it?
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether talent beats out hard work or vice versa, but let me end with this: No amount of talent can compensate for unwillingness to work.