Thursday, April 24, 2008


We all have different talents.
We want to find a way to put these to use.

Part of the trick of putting talent to use is to find the right task. We can do this at the large scale or at the small scale. At the large scale we can pick a project that suits us.

As I write this I'm still thinking about the Julia Cameron book I was reading yesterday; at one point she was talking about what good writing was and bad writing. There was a strong suggestion that what was asked of writers in college was bad writing, or at least that writing in college was badly taught. The latter claim is not unlikely; the former, however, misses the point. Different genres have different desires; they play to different talents. Cameron was talking about a writer having trouble with academic forms because they reined in her creativity. But that was one writer with one set of talents.

As far as suiting writing to talents, genres all provide opportunities for both good and bad writing. My talents, I feel, lie more in my logical constructions and the ideas that I come up with--these ideas are best suited, in my opinion, to expository forms such as those taught in school. Other writers have talents that lie in other directions: poets have a very different sensibility and aim than I have.

So to use our talents best, one thing we can do is to find a project that suits us.
Sometimes we end up with a project that doesn't suit our talents. Dissertation writers are sometimes of this sort, especially those in clinical programs. Such people often have talents that help them relate to other individuals, and the dissertation is more a large hurdle to overcome in order to practice than it is a first step in a career of academic writing.

Even if the task doesn't suit your talents on the large-scale, you ought to look for ways that you can bring your talents into play. To follow up on my off the cuff example in the previous paragraph, you might want to look for means that allow you capitalize on your ability to relate to people. Maybe this can help you in managing your committee; maybe this can help in you thinking about your audience and using that knowledge to help you decide what to write. Maybe I'm reaching here. I don't always know the answer, and I often rely on the same basic principles, so variety is not really a large part of my own repertoire. Not every blog posting will come together as a nicely formed essay.

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