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How to Refine Your Raw Writing Talent

Discouraging, isn’t it?

You write a few blog posts, and friends serenade you with praises. You dream, Maybe I’ve got what it takes to score a publishing deal.

But then the music hits a full stop.

You receive a scathing critique by an agent, an editor, or someone else in the business.

And the concert is over.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen it over and over.

Writers ask me for feedback. I believe they want real input, but when I fill the page with red marks, their faces fall.

They hoped I would say, “Where have you been all my life? How has a major publishing house not found you yet?”

They weren’t looking for help—they were looking to be discovered.

You might have a boatload of talent—enough to tell a compelling story in a fresh way. But if you think that means you don’t need to refine your skills, you’re wrong.

I’ve written and published more than 195 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, yet I still need fresh eyes on my work. And I’ve had to become a ferocious self-editor.

Writing is a craft.

That means you must build your writing muscles and learn the skills.

Regardless of how talented you are, writing takes work. Many talented athletes never make the pros because they believed raw talent would carry them.

That doesn’t have to be you in the writing game, as long as you cultivate your skills.

3 Effective Ways to Hone Your Talent

1. Read, Read, Read

Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.

You should read at least 200 titles in genre you want to write in.

Even if you plan to break the rules, you need to know what they are.

2. Write, Write, Write

Don’t expect to grow as a writer unless you’re doing it. Dreamers talk about writing. Writers write.

Start with short stuff: articles, features, blogs. Learn to work with an editor. Learn the business. Get a quarter million clichés out of your system.

3. Welcome Feedback

The fastest way to shave years off your learning curve is to seek input from someone who knows.

But prepare yourself. Your ego may take a bruising.

Yes—the red pen hurts. During my early years in the newspaper and magazine business, my editors tore my work apart.

But it made me the writer I am today. Without that scrutiny I don’t know where I’d be.

Being heavily edited just means you can get better. So take advantage of every opportunity to grow. Assume there’s room for improvement—because there always is.

I’m still learning and sharpening my skills, after nearly 50 years in this game.

Tell me in the comments how you plan to act on this advice this week.

Jerry B. Jenkins

2 thoughts on “How to Refine Your Raw Writing Talent”

  1. I’m a published author and write extensively for magazines and you are spot on! We writers know these tips, but can let them slide from view. Your direct and clear post is compelling. Thank you!

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