Who's a Writing Genius?
I wished on Twitter for someone @Doubledaypub to ask me to review the book. Wishing on Twitter is much more effective than wishing on stars. Within a week, the book arrived (yesterday). Study commenced immediately. This often happens when I receive a book I want to read for personal reasons.
Shenk's premise, backed by a plethora of studies in different disciplines, is that outstanding performance in any field is mostly the result of practice. Perhaps that is too simplified. It's the result of a process, the interaction of genes and environment: G x E, with emphasis on the interaction. He says most all of us can display genius, recharging the Human Potential movement.
If this information ever penetrates the airy-fairy "white veil" visionaries who dream and talk endlessly of becoming rich and famous as Authors, maybe they will cease waiting for the Muse or Inspiration to strike and pontificating high-minded platitudes and theories about achieving success in writing.
Writing success arrives after practice, practice, practice.
I admit that I wanted The Genius in All of Us for a vehicle in my quest to understand myself, my family, background and my life (to a lesser extent). I am struggling with Shenk's revelation, even though I already knew about some of the research he cites. Giving up the notion of being "gifted" can be difficult, especially if you feel that's all you have going for you. Letting go of some elements of the foundation of my higher education in psychology leaves me feeling asea.
I'm only at page 52 and trust that by the time I reach page 139 (the beginning of 160+ pages of back matter) I'll adjust to this new paradigm or at least climb out of denial. Of course I looked at all the back matter first. It's quite impressive and often the most valuable part of nonfiction books.
What's the take away so far? To become a great writer, you need a highly complex verbal and supportive environment in your earliest years and positive reinforcement for your earliest writing efforts. Then you need an intense education about writing (an M.F.A. for creative writing? J-school for nonfiction?) and most of all, you need to try and fail and keep on (practice!) until you succeed.
Just write the damn thing! Listen to this article