When I talk to other, more well-established authors, I often find myself wrestling with a bit of an inferiority complex. I know I have my strengths as an author (ability to talk easily with people, interesting ideas, good writing skills, etc.), but I have a hard time feeling like I can match up with many of the authors I encounter.
A large part of it is due to my lack of education. I have a high school education, with no academic training in ANY career or profession. Everything I know, I’ve learned by studying outside of the formal education system. I doubt I will ever obtain a degree in creative writing, English, literature, or any of the other backgrounds that cater to being a good writer. I don’t even have a background in a specific profession I can use to write from a position of authority.
It’s tough to feel inferior, and this particular complex is something I can usually ignore enough to be confident as an author. I may not have the education, but I have a keen intellect and the desire to work as hard as possible to be the best author I can be.
Turns out this is actually enough to make up for my lack of education!
A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that cognitive ability (also known as intelligence) is often enough to make up for a lack of education. Specifically, the study examined the differences between students from disadvantaged backgrounds vs. students with more advantage (better education). To quote the research “Intelligence is the most important factor in determining long-term achievement outcomes”.
Non-cognitive or personality traits like perseverance, grit, and a good work ethic are all factors (albeit minor ones) in success. But the single most influential factor in success or failure of the students was their intelligence. Formal education and academic advantages were far less important than the intelligence of the people participating in the study.
This gives me hope that I can succeed, even without the education that so many other authors have. As long as I continue to sharpen my intellect, expand my knowledge base, and use my non-cognitive traits (like determination), I have a good chance for success.