Sunday, August 02, 2009


Do You Suffer From "Expert-phobia"?

I have a problem. What the heck was I thinking that I, of all people, could write a book advising other parents with children who have sensory issues? I mean, sure, I have a lot of personal experience. And I guess I have some great educational experience too. Plus there’s also the hard work I’ve put into research, interviews and other things. But I’m starting to doubt myself.

For the first time since I began writing professionally, I’m actually nervous about an assignment—really nervous. I should be ecstatic about this project. I mean I built it from scratch, pitched it to a few publishers and it was grabbed up almost immediately. That’s never happened to me before so I took it as a great sign! Still…I’m scared and it’s preventing me from getting anything done.

Every time I sit down to write I freeze up. A million questions flood my brain: What made me think I could do this? Why didn’t I just pitch this idea to someone else to do…someone with more experience? What if I end competing with one of my SPD community colleagues and they do better? What if, what if, what if. It’s so frustrating. I had the confidence to come up with the idea, spent weeks creating the best possible book proposal and even unintentionally created a fairly solid platform. So, why the heck am I so nervous?

I think I know what it is. I’ve written many articles, a children’s picture book and a memoir and all have been in basically the same voice and same target audience. But this reference book is different. I’m…an “expert.” An expert giving advice to other people.

Yes! That’s it! I’m scared of the expert title—expert-phobia.

I’ve never been a person who likes being in the spotlight. I’d much rather help someone else get there. But now that I’m being shoved in those bright lights it just feels…well…strange. I guess a lot of us writers do that, don’t we? We work our fingers to the bone scratching to get those choice assignments, finally get our work noticed and out there then when we get that big job—the one where everyone wants our tips, advice and opinions because we’re “THE woman to turn to,”—we turn around saying, “Who, me?”

I wonder if people like Writer Mama expert Christina Katz or Wonder Writer/Editor Annette Fix or one of the main SPD gurus Carol Stock Kranowitz had momentary spells of self-doubt when creating their top-selling books. I wonder if they were in the beginning stages of the works that made them “experts” and were plagued by the same thoughts? I guess what I have to do is look at where they are now and realize that I can do it too!

(I think…)

Okay! I’ll do it! I’m still a bit nervous but you know what? Even with the nerves shooting adrenaline through my body, it still feels really good to have people who trust that I can do this big job. And no matter what, I know I’ll still be an expert in something: A mama to my four little beauties. That means more to me than anything.

Never let self-doubt stop you from doing what you love and are good at. The only person who can stop you from reaching for your dreams is you. And that would be a huge waste, wouldn’t it?

Thanks for listening!



Blogger Analisa said...

Chynna, I love this post.
I know the feeling, not yet in writing but in other areas. When you have the great idea to pass along and then someone at the conference table says. "You really should be the one to do it" Then it hits. There is no one else to pass this off on. I have to do it.

I think it is a good thing to look critically at ourselves then do it anyway. If we really think we are an expert to the bone, then we have closed the door to learning new things and learning from others.

Remember that you have it in you and forge ahead! It just might be why you were given that parenting challenge, because you would be the one to help others. :)

11:15 AM  
Blogger Chynna said...

Thanks so much, Analisa! You are SO right about needing to keep that door open to continue learning new things, especially from others. That's what keeps life interesting and happy.

And I so appreciate your last comment. I'm a person who believes everything happens for a reason--good and bad. That's what I need to draw from. ;D


12:20 PM  
Blogger Christina Katz said...

Wonder no longer: there is nothing can scare a writer half to death better than the panic after the euphoria of signing the book contract. Then...duh-duh-duh-duh, time to write the book [insert sound of woman shrieking here].

It's a confidence rattler, all right.

There's only one cure: sit down and make a plan, turn the plan into a check list, start crossing a few things off the list every day. Don't let too many days go by without crossing anything off or the panic will come back. And amazingly, the more you cross off, the more your confidence will become restored.

You will be tempted to get busy with other things. You will tell yourself that it counts and it's all par for the course. Baloney. Nothing matters but the list. Cross things off of it, then go about the rest of your life...relieved that you are getting it done.

You can do it, Chynna. Good luck!

7:44 PM  
Blogger A Kassner said...

Commenting on your success, and your expert phobia gives me the strong desire to hit the delete key, but I haven't. Whew! Expert phobia comes in many forms. Chyna,sign the contract, make your lists, feel the fear and write what you know. Sounds like a formula for success. Good for you.

2:34 PM  

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