Is It Talent, or Is It Hard Work? Yes. Jill Richardson

on Jan 16, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

I wrote my first article a couple years out of college. I banged it out on my blue Brother electric the-hardtypewriter; badly, I might add, because God invented the computer for people with my typing skills.

One of the leading Christian magazines of the time accepted the piece on my first submission. With a $400 check in my account (hey, huge money by 1987 standards), I was on my way. This new career would be so easy for a person as smart as I was.

About that . . .

It wasn’t until years later that I would hear cautions like Stephen King’s: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Long after all the rejection slips and the self-righteous, “But they said it was good—why did they say no!” rants, I would learn about things like “coasting,” and I would recognize the symptoms.

Coasting—“To move easily without using power.”

Or perhaps a hint from the Urban Dictionary is even more appropriate: “Being in a point of total relaxation, when everything seems to be going your way.”

I had coasted for years. Fueled by easy success from the first teacher who gave my “match the grasshoppers” paper an A+, I knew I didn’t have to work as hard as the other kids to do as well. So, I didn’t.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t play well once school days are over. And if no one ever calls you on it, you never learn the skills you need to succeed in a much bigger pond.

Everyone told me I was talented—no one dared to tell me the one thing I needed to hear. I was also lazy. No one taught me what Malcolm Gladwell would teach me later—don’t walk in prepared for success unless you’ve also slogged through a lot of hours of ugly, inglorious, hard work.

Was I a writer during those years of on and off success? You bet.

Are you a writer if you write, regardless of success? Yes, you are. You don’t have to be the most talented wordsmith to earn that title, and you don’t have to put in 80 hours a week to feel deserving.

But was I the best writer I could be? Was I the writer God wanted me to be? Were there places he wanted me to go that would require a serious uphill pedal, not an easy coast on paved paths?

If you’re feeling the Spirit giving you a similar message, know this—the hard uphill is worth the extra effort.

It’s worth it when you read that glittering line and you realize, “I wrote that!” (They won’t all glitter, but that one . . . it feels so good.)

It’s worth it when you force yourself to fix that one spot that you know is slightly “off,” even when you know you could get by with it, and the whole paragraph improves immediately.

It’s worth it when you get a “yes” from that place you’ve had as a “goal publication” for years, because you refused to rest with the draft that was OK but not stellar.

It’s worth it when a stranger writes and tells you your words repaired her heart or awakened her to action.

It’s worth it when you hit “send,” and a quiet voice tells you that was the best you had within you. That’s the voice of the Spirit.

Do you need to put a little power behind your pedal today? Be encouraged—every push brings you closer to the place God wants you as a writer.

JillJill Richardson is a writer, speaker, pastor, mom of three, and author of five books with three more on the way. She likes to travel, grow flowers, cause trouble, research her next project, and is currently pursuing a DMin in Church Leadership in a Changing Context. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, kindness, justice, the Cubs, and dark chocolate. Her passion is her tagline: Picturing Faith with the Next Generation.


  1. Ouch! Thank you for being brave and naming it…talented but lazy.

    Sharon Ruff

    January 19, 2017

  2. Thanks for the encouragement to keep trudging uphill. Sometimes I’m guilty of talking and reading too much about writing instead of actually writing. Time to put what I know into practice! Thanks for the push!

    Denise Vredevoogd

    January 26, 2017

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