Tools and Talent

by Jim Stovall

Here in the 21st century, it is easy to take the marvels of the computer age for granted. Things that seem commonplace to us now would have been science fiction a decade ago and complete fantasy a generation ago.

Many of us have deep-seated dreams and aspirations to create our masterpiece as a legacy of our life and time here on earth. It’s normal to want to leave something of ourselves behind so that when we are gone, we will not be forgotten. When we think of the masters such as Mozart, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Ernest Hemingway, we often look at their work and forget the tools with which they created their enduring masterpieces.

The most basic Smart Phone or iPad would have been an unimaginable quantum leap to any of these geniuses.

As I dictate the words that are being typed into a computer for this column which is read by people around the world via newspapers, magazines, and online publications, it is easy to forget that the ability to edit with ease, check spelling and punctuation, or instantly translate into dozens of languages is a recent phenomenon. If Shakespeare had only had the most basic word processing software, or Beethoven had had the benefit of simple editing and mixing technology that is available on your hand-held device, one shudders to think how much more output would have been generated from their life’s work. Maybe they would have grown complacent with the technology as we too often do, but I tend to think the masters would have harnessed the potential of these modern-day miracles.

The critical component in creating your masterpiece remains the unparalleled computerized graphic generator that is housed between your ears. The best programs and technology we have today to enhance our creativity are little more than a blank slate until we accept the task of filling in the blanks. Mozart still had to play and write the first note, and Shakespeare still had to imagine the first scene of one of his plays and the first line from the first character. The barriers to creativity and moats around our masterpieces are still our own lack of willingness to engage in the task.

One of my favorite 20th century authors, James Michener, was fond of saying, “The average aspiring writer is filled with seven volumes of garbage that they are, unfortunately, not willing to write through to get to the treasure beneath.” As in most things in life, greatness begins when you begin.

My late, great friend and mentor, Dr. Robert Schuller, often said, “Starting is halfway there.” Most people don’t fail to achieve. They fail to begin.

As you go through your day today, honor the masters, and begin your masterpiece.

Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached by email at; on Facebook at; or follow Jim on Twitter @StovallAuthor.

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  1. Michele
    3 years ago

    Most of the time, the starting is the hardest part. Well- intentioned people may have beaten the dream out of us with their realistic outlooks.