“In every interview I’m asked what’s the most important quality a novelist has to have. It’s pretty obvious: talent. No matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality. If you don’t have any fuel, even the best car won’t run.
The problem with talent, though, is that in most cases the person involved can’t control its amount or quality. You might fnid the amount isn’t enough and you want to increase it, or you might try to be frugal to make it last longer, but in neither case do things work out that easily. Talent has a mind of its own and wells up when it wants to, and once it dries up, that’s it. Of course certain poets and rock singers whose genius went out in a blaze of glory - people like Schubert and Mozart, whose dramatic early deaths turned them into legends - have a certain appeal, but for the vast majority of us this isn’t the model we follow.
If I’m asked what the next important quality is for a novelist, that’s easy too: focus - the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it. I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else. Even a novelist who has a lot of talent and a mind full of great new ideas probably can’t write a thing if, for instance, he’s suffering a lot of pain from a cavity. The pain block concentration.That’s what I mean when I say that without focus you can’t accomplish anything.
After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance. If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. What’s needed for a writer of fiction - at least one who hopes to write a novel - is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration is the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs. Unless you can find a balance between both, it’ll be difficult to write novels professionally over a long time. Continuing to breathe while you hold your breath.
Fortunately, these two disciplines - focus and endurance - are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training. You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point.”
-Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk
About Running (chapter 4, Most of What I Know About Writing Fiction I Learned by Running Every Day)