Has Accessibility Killed Expertise?

iStock_000011925790XSmallIf you are a sensitive soul whose tiny precious spark of creativity is easily doused, don’t read this post. It probably isn’t for you anyway, since you are likely one of the people who ISN’T out there scanning the net for the magic formula that will help you write a book that lays the proverbial golden egg. I use the word “write” loosely here. And that’s the rub. It seems everyone talks about writing a best-seller, as if it were like baking a cake, “add 1 cup of words to 2 cups design, and a pinch of expertise.” The expertise is optional. Talent is optional.

The wealth of resources available on the internet makes collection and curation of data easy. But what about expertise? Can you really master kick-boxing in 4 hours? Would you want to be on a flight with a pilot with 4 hours training? Would you let a 4-hour obstetrician deliver your baby?

It seems expertise is a forgotten commodity in this day of instant downloads, on-line tutorials and “give it to me in 30 seconds or less.” What about knowledge based on experience? What about craft? What about wisdom gained through introspection? It takes *living* to gain perspective, to glean value from experience. Sometimes you learn hard lessons twice (or twenty times) before you really—I mean REALLY get it—the lesson. And *then* it’s worth sharing.

In my workshops, I talk a lot about the alchemy of experience.


\ˈal-kə-mē\ [ a power or process of transforming something common into something special ] (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Experience is the greatest teacher. Without experience, creativity is hollow. Experimentation yields nothing if the result is not observed. Taking our life lessons and milking them for all they’re worth is the path to wisdom. Even if science finds a way to lengthen our lives for hundreds of years, what is the point if we are not learning?

So what does all this have to do with writing? Well, here’s a slap up-side the head to everyone who thinks that just writing a blog, or collecting data, or gathering information from internet sources gives them enough expertise to write a best-seller. I’m not saying it can’t be done or hasn’t been done. I’m saying it’s a pervasive new attitude and a nail in the coffin of creativity.

When we’re talking about creativity, talent is NOT optional! Writers—even if they have to make their living at soul-sucking day jobs—WRITERS write because to *not* write means an inner death. Writing is the holy grail, the infant in our arms; writing is what makes our souls soar. When you’re “hot on the scent”, writing is like jumping out of a plane and pulling the rip cord and then, ahh….that glorious, wondrous, glide—it’s an almost mystical experience. In fact, sometimes it *is* a mystical experience. The alchemy of turning experience into gold.

Yes, yes, YES, there is room for all kinds of writing. Heck, I’m a writing coach and I have seen the gamut of good, less good and just plain awful writing. I truly LOVE what I do, even when I am working with people who have never written a book before—but it means FIRST helping them identify *why* they want to write that book. What is the glimmer just over the horizon; what is that “book I always wanted to write” and how do I craft my message in the best way possible?

I love to help people find that spark and unearth their creativity—find those words and carve, smooth and polish them until they shine. But make no mistake: the *spark* has to be there if you want to write well. And the glimmer on the horizon is *not* cash, it’s creative gold.

Your takeaway today: Don’t just write a book. Write it well.

2 Responses to Has Accessibility Killed Expertise?
  1. Susan McNicoll
    March 19, 2013 | 3:13 pm

    Oh Lord. Well, I am working on a blog right now Christine and if I did not know better you, you were standing behind me and wrote this to help me come to terms with at least some of my own current loss of faith. You have reminded me of how much experience is important, that not everyone can write a book and nor should they. The why you are writing a book is as important as what the book is about because it is the why that usually sustains through the whole sometimes-ugly process. Not for the first time a week or so ago someone said to me a variation of something I have been hearing for years – “I have often thought about writing a book. It must be nice to sit at your desk at home and look out the window and enjoy the peace.” I won’t even comment on that. YOu can do that in your head yourself! Your students are in good hands. If I end up putting up my blog I may mention yours and will direct people here if I do. Good post.

    • Christine Cowley
      March 19, 2013 | 4:03 pm

      Susan, thank-YOU for letting me know that sometimes I should just throw it out there–good, bad or indifferent. In this politically correct miasma of back-patting and “You can do it”, telling the truth is a muscle that gets difficult to flex. Glad I did and so appreciate your kind comments.

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