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What I didn’t learn in school

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Written by Kerri Williams / Introduction by Alen Mischael Vukelić

old-school typing machine, self taught

Photo: Kerri Williams


It’s always a great pleasure to discover an article like this one written by Kerri Williams. She tells us about self-taughts and their approach to creativity, which you will find out to be very different from people with a formal education. We have always admired people who have struggled, but eventually arrived at something much deeper than even they themselves expected.

In my own article, with the title “Credentials”, I talked about the relationship between formal an informal knowledge. Kerri takes it a step further, showing us the self-taughts’ motivation and passion by which they are driven.


What I didn’t learn in school

by Kerri Williams


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 creatives 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.


Peace in your journey – Kerri


For more articles, great photography (which you can buy), and even creativity coaching, visit Kerri at:


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