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Lessons from High School Drama: Attitude vs. Aptitude

Today I am delighted to welcome guest blogger Sarah Allen. I met Sarah on Twitter in December, checked out her amazing blog, and wrote her a fan letter–hoping she would guest blog for me. And here she is! When you are done reading her words on attitude versus aptitude, please check out her blog, From Sarah With Joy.

Lessons from High School Drama: Attitude vs. Aptitude by Sarah Allen

I can’t dance. And if you watch my parents dance you don’t wonder why. My dad moves like Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Which is why I was surprised when my drama teacher would put me up front in shows. I was never the main part or anything, but it was often the case that in big dance numbers I would be at the front of the stage.

Obviously I was not one of the better dancers in the class. Not even remotely. But. I was one of the hardest workers. I listened and did what I was told and made sure I understood everything, and because of that, even though I probably had the least natural talent out of everyone, I knew the steps better than most. So I got put in front.

I also wasn’t afraid to look like an idiot, which I’m sure I did. I cared, and danced and sang and performed my heart out, which is the only difference, especially in high school, between selling your idiocy as cool and just looking awkward. I mean, I still looked awkward, but I made it work for me.

So whether or not you took high school drama, there are two things we writers can take from this.

1. Work pays off. There always seem to be writers around us with more talent than we could ever hope to have. But it’s the work that matters. If they don’t work, their talent is only going to take them so far. So do your homework. Figure out how to market your book. Grit your teeth and finish that project. Then move quickly onto the next one. Research agents and the publishing industry as a whole. Do your editing work and find people to help you. Learn how to write a query letter. Learn the rules of writing, even if you decide not to use them sometimes. It will take you much, much further then someone who just sits on the couch spouting beautiful poetry.

2. Passion makes the difference. I firmly believe that a person’s success as a writer is directly correlated to how desperately they want it. You must care, or the rejection and blocks and condescension is going to put you off your target. You’re fueling yourself here, especially in the beginning. Nobody cares if you don’t write, so you have to. Not only that, but if your writing is saturated with your own natural passion—your soul—then you’ll touch the souls and hearts of your readers. Then they will care.

I don’t care how much talent you have. If you’re willing to work, and learn, and work and learn some more; if you want this with every fiber of your being, then you’ll do just fine. I’d bet on you any day.

About the Author (in her own words): I’m a (23 year old, blond, fanatical, insomniac, not-as-naïve-as-you-think uber-dork) aspiring writer who loves all genres, though for some reason I tend to write about middle-aged men. Working on finishing my first novel. Also circulating a smattering of poems and short stories, working on getting those published. If I’m not writing I’m probably obsessing over a movie or show with painfully stunning acting. Slyther-puff. Anglophile. Jane Austen groupie. Secret lover of jazz and post-grunge rock, not so secret lover of Colin Firth, white chocolate, cavalier king charles spaniels, and Frasier. Visit me online at From Sara With Joy.


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