Talent is taste. Knowing what specifically you love, why you love it and what about it is exceptional to you.
Your taste will lead you. It will force you to develop skills that match your taste and your ambition. It will not allow you to settle until you manifest that dream in your head. That’s how you become “talented.” The below excerpt from an interview with Ira Glass of “This American Life” says it all..
Nobody tells people who are beginners. I really wish someone had told this to me. Is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it. we get into it because we have good taste. you know what I mean? like you want to make TV, because you love TV. there is stuff you just like, love. ok so you got really good taste. you get into this thing … that i don’t even know how to describe it, but there is a gap. for the first couple of years you are making stuff, what you are making isn’t so good… ok, its not that great. it’s really not that great. its trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but not quite that good. but your taste, the thing get you into the game, your taste is still killer. your taste is good enough that you can tell what you are making is a kind of disappointment to you, you know what i mean? you can tell it is still sort of crappy. a lot of people never get past that phase. a lot of people at that point, they quit. the thing i would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know, who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. they knew it felt short. [some of us can admit that to ourselves, some of us less able to admit that to ourselves] we knew like, it didn’t have that special thing that we wanted it to have. […] everybody goes through that. for you to go through it, if you are going through right now, just getting out of that phase, if you are just starting out and entering into that phase, you gotta know it is totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. do a huge volume of work. put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re gonna finish one story. you know what i mean? whatever it’s gonna be. you create the deadline. it is best if you have somebody who is waiting work from you, expecting work from you. even if not somebody who pays you, but that you are in a situation where you have to turn out the work. because it is only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap and the work you are making will be as good as your ambitions.