Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What I Didn’t Learn In School

What I Didn’t Learn In School:

Hello. My name is Kerri and I'm a self-taught writer. Let’s do it again. Hello. My name is Kerri and I’m a self-taught photographer. Okay, now it’s your turn.

Hello. My name is (fill in the blank) and I’m a self-taught (fill in the blank).

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Or, maybe it was. “Self-taught: is sometimes a dirty word. It can be viewed as lacking talent. It can be viewed as being a novice. Sometimes it isn’t taken seriously. “Self-taught” can be severely misinterpreted.

I bring this point up because many creatives are self-taught. For one reason or another, we didn’t pursue higher education. Is it tougher for a self-taught creative? Maybe. But we do have a vast array of talents for lack of a formal education. As a self taught creative, let me share some educational lessons learned simply by being self-taught.


Self-taught creative learn the hard way. While we may take classes or lessons to further develop our skills, we spend a lot of time self-doing. We don’t get grades or critiques from professors, but rather we look at what we create and become our own worse critics. We look deeply at what we develop. When we review our work, when something isn't quite right, we work hard to figure out what it is. We research and study for self-improvement rather than accepting the word of someone who is grading or critiquing us.


Because we’re not being told what to do or how to do it, because we’re not worried about a grade or whether we’ve accomplished what the professor wants, we discover for ourselves ways to articulate our work. This happens either by chance or by choice. Often it’s a combination of both. We are bold and brazen in what we do and we don’t fear experimentation. We tend to accept “screwing up” a lot easier. And it’s often through that screw up that we discover a new way of doing something. A way that sets our creativity on a whole new path. Experimentation is the key to our creative genius. Something fascinates our creative mind and we search out a way to engage that fascination into our own work. There’s a lot of self-discovery in being self-taught.


Creatives spend a great deal of time doing. Being self-taught, our choices are based on our passion. There’s a big difference in knowing how something is done and actually doing that something. For us, sometimes we don’t care how it’s done, only how we can do it. Passion drives us to be something more than what we are. We dedicate our lives to find the grain of our creative being.


Creatives work hard to carve out the time required for their art. We often come home from a long day at work, are met by a family making demands on our time and think about how nice it would be to fall into the sofa and be hypnotized by the television. But we want more from our lives, so we demand our own time, whittled out of seconds and minutes, and do what we must to satisfy our creative needs. We give up sleep for another hour of creative time. We skip meals for 30 more minutes. We devote weekends to our masterpiece. We discipline our time to do our work.

Always remember, your self-taught education is deep. Never forget why you started on your creative journey. It doesn’t matter how you get there. It only matters how you feel about what you’ve accomplished. Let your work speak for itself.

Class adjourned.

Top image from The Creative Finder.

This is a cross-post from Ezine Articles.

Kerri Williams is a freelance photographer and writer on a lifelong creative journey. You can learn more about her photography and view her work at http://www.magpistudios.com.