Inspiration, Writing

Listen to what Eddie Izzard has to say about talent

Photo of Eddie Izzard
Image: / Copyright Andy H

I stumbled across Nat Russo’s blog A Writer’s Journey last night, and read something so insanely inspiring, it needs to be shared!

Nat went to see Eddie Izzard in concert last year and was lucky enough to attend a Q&A session with him after the show. The last question of the evening was this: “Do you have any idea how talented you are?”

Eddie paused and became very serious. He said the answer to the question was “not very”. (Nat goes on to paraphrase what Eddie said next.)

“No, I’m serious. And I want to answer this seriously because I know some of you out there want to do this…what I’m doing right now. I was not a particularly talented comedian, and anyone who attended the same comedy workshops I did when I was starting out will tell you the same. I got here through hard work. I had to work constantly at it. I had to dig down deep and wrench it out of myself, and every day was a struggle. It took me more than a decade of hard work to get good at it. I wasn’t born a comedian by any means.”

I had to dig down deep and wrench it out of myself, and every day was a struggle.

He went on to tell the story of how he was determined to break into dramatic acting. At the time he was a successful comedian and some people were a little nonplussed. An interviewer asked, “Wouldn’t you rather be a great comedian than a so-so actor? Why branch out now?”

His reply: “You know, I was once a so-so comic.”

I’m pretty sure I fist-pumped the air at this point and muttered YEEEEEEEESSSSS!

Eddie Izzard is a genius, right? But he was once a so-so comic. I hope I’m not the only person to find that insanely inspiring? Because “so-so” is exactly how many of us feel about our writing.

Give me a non-fiction book to write and I’m up and running – ideas, chapter headings, paragraphs; they all download into my brain at alarming speed.

But the second I switch to fiction, I’m like a fish out of water. Plot? Character? Pacing? Gasp! Why is it all such a struggle?

That’s why, when I read this last night, I knew I had to share it – for everyone battling with this issue right now.

It’s OK to be a so-so writer. It’s OK to write crap first drafts (and seconds, and thirds). And it’s OK for it to be teeth-grittingly hard work.

“So-so” is where everyone starts. Including Eddie Izzard.

I find that incredibly reassuring.


4 thoughts on “Listen to what Eddie Izzard has to say about talent”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. I found it every bit as inspiring as you did. It made me want to drive straight home and write! And I probably would have if it weren’t already so late when the show ended.

    Like you, I’m of the opinion that Eddie is brilliant. What an overwhelming feeling of relief it was to hear that he didn’t start that way!


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