Importance of being a prodigy depends on domain

Winner, Gifted Children, 289-90

It may well be more important to be a prodigy in some domains than it is in others.  Prodigies appear most often in formal, well-structured domains such as music and chess, and it is in these domains that eminent adults most often started out as prodigies.  In the domains of writing and the visual arts, eminent adults were typically not prodigies as children.  And in more loosely structured domains to which children would typically have no access, such as law or medicine, prodigies are almost never found….

This does not mean that adults who are eminent in “non-prodigy” domains were not exceptional as children.  They most likely were, if one knew how to look and what to look for…However, they did not discover their ultimate domains until their early adult years, often after some kind of crystallizing experience in which by chance they encountered something that made them fall in love with a particular domain…

Not only is being a prodigy not necessary for adult creative accomplishment, but it is also not sufficient, even in the domains in which prodigies are most common–music and chess.


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