Friday, July 9, 2010


POSTED (Albert Einstein was definitely a big brain kind of guy but as a young man he responded so slowly to questions that his parents and teachers suspected he was mentally disabled. Also, he did poorly in school and failed his college entrance exams the first time. Go figure.)
Most writers are smart. Yes. But how smart? Are they, for instance, the smartest person in a room of people? Depends on the room, I suppose. If the room is The Poodle Dog Lounge on an all-you-can-drink-for-ten-dollars night, the writer’s chances are pretty good. On the other hand, if it’s a room full of, say, astrophysicists, rocket scientists, and brain surgeons, I’d have to say probably not.

Most writers, in a crowded room of intelligent people, probably won’t be the smartest (in an IQ kind of way) person. Writers are smart, but there are other qualities that count for as much or more than IQ. Creativity, of course, is the big one. This isn’t measured in IQ tests. The whole intimate relationship with language etc…etc… And, of course, there’s the desire and determination thing, which can take a person a long way no matter where they begin. Here’s my point: you don’t have to be brilliant to be a writer. Oh, don’t worry, big brains, you can still be a writer. But if you look at the tribe of successful writers you’ll find a lot of smart, very creative, very determined people. You probably won’t find any more brilliant people than you’d find working at the post-office.

I feel the need to say this because I’ve had people say to me before that they worried if they were smart enough to be a writer. That’s the wrong worry, I think. Worrying about finding a particular voice and style, the right rhythm for the language of a WIP, these are good things to focus on. Maybe there is such a thing as Writers' Intelligence, but luckily for most us only a small fraction of it is innate talent; the rest can be learned.

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