Writers Are Made, Not Born

Discover King's insight on talent's role in writing success in 'Danse Macabre’. Learn the true value of discipline in honing artistry.

Writers Are Made, Not Born
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I think that writers are made, not born or created out of dreams of childhood trauma—that becoming a writer (or a painter, actor, director, dancer, and so on) is a direct result of conscious will. Of course, there has to be some talent involved, but talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study; a constant process of honing.
Talent is a dull knife that will cut nothing unless it is wielded with great force—a force so great the knife is not really cutting at all but bludgeoning and breaking (and after two or three of these gargantuan swipes, it may succeed in breaking itself…which may be what happened to such disparate writers as Ross Lockridge and Robert E. Howard).
Discipline and constant work are the whetstones upon which the dull knife of talent is honed until it becomes sharp enough, hopefully, to cut through even the toughest meat and gristle. No writer, painter, or actor—no artist—is ever handed a sharp knife (although a few are handed almighty big ones; the name we give to the artist with the big knife is “genius”), and we hone with varying degrees of zeal and aptitude.

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Stephen King Collection