I think the saddest thing an aspiring writer has ever said to me is, "I don't think I'm smart enough to be a writer."
I'm not even sure what that means. Bad spelling? Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were all notoriously bad spellers. A dictionary could fix that. Poor grammar? There are plenty of online resources these days to help a writer figure out how to construct a sentence. And why not audit a basic grammar course, either online or in person at a local community college?
In reality, I think when a person says they're not "smart" enough to be a writer, it means that they don't know a lot about EVERYthing. A writer, it seems to them, is some brainiac who, for whatever reason, chose not to make a living as a "Jeopardy" contestant.
I always feel uncomfortable when people assume that I know everything. I don't and I freely admit it. What I do know is that I love to learn about a lot of things, even things that don't necessarily interest me. It's called curiosity.
That sums it up. It's easy to point to different things I do besides writing (like cake decorating or cooking, for instance) and say I have special talents. In all honesty, though, I have to credit all the "talents" and "knowledge" I've acquired to an over-active curiosity gene (if you don't have one, I suggest getting one!)
In other words, the first step to gaining knowledge and developing talent is to get interested in something, even if it's something that normally doesn't interest you. My father always told me, "Don't be afraid to learn something you don't need to know." By taking that to heart, I've not only learned how to decorate cakes, cook, and write, I've also gained a passing knowledge of:
* gemology (the study of gemstones)
* history of different areas of the country and the world (this alone has enriched me beyond words!)
* oenology (the study of wine or the science of winemaking)
* professional sports including rodeo, wrestling, and football
* firearms and how to use them
And that's just a small sample. My library of interests grows daily!
Am I an expert in any of those fields? Not at all. Far from it, in fact. But many people are under the impression that learning about something means that they have made the decision to devote their entire lives to mastering that subject, and perhaps that intimidates them from making a "commitment" to learn something new. Learning experiences, indeed, life itself, can be a buffet; you don't have to take a plateful of anything, just a little of this, a little of that, taste something new, see if you like it.
And if you do, you can always go back for seconds!