Thursday, July 20, 2006

Creativity and the Control Freak

Hi, my name is Paula, and I'm a control freak.

I am not a go with the flow kind of woman. I like things to be logical, well-planned and controllable. If I have a decision to make, the word "snap" is not in my vocabulary. I like to know my options, choose them carefully and make the right choices.

As you can imagine, being a writer and a control freak at the same time is rather like being a shy, modest stripper. Good luck with that.

Of all the professions in the world, writing is one of the hardest to control. First, writers rarely have any control over the urge to write. It's part of our nature, built and nurtured by our experiences, our genetics, our talents and our spirits. Not writing, for most of us, is like not breathing. Possible for a short time but ultimately unsustainable.

Second, writers have little control over how the story turns out. Oh, we can set up our spreadsheets and index cards and whiteboards. We can Discover Story Magic or Write the Selling Synopsis or learn the ins and outs of Goal, Motivation and Conflict, but ultimately, our characters tell their own stories, and we're mostly along for the ride.

Third, writers have no control over how their work is received. From contest judges to editors to agents to readers, there's always someone else out there who makes the ultimate decision about the value of our work. We have no control over whether an agent wants to represent us or an editor wants to buy our work. We can't control whether or not readers love our books enough to buy them.

So, are any of you control freaks, too? How do you reconcile your need for control with your need to be creative and innovative in your work?


Carla Swafford said...

Oh. My. Goodness. So funny!
"Shy, modest stripper." What a thought! LOL!

But I know how you feel. Being of German descent, I like order. I bask in rules. School was easy because I knew the regulations.

In writing, I tried for years to follow all the "rules" until I found out they were all wrong. There's really no rules! Anarchy!

Oddly, my "real" job is the same way (no real rules) and took me a couple years to realize that. Now I rarely get in "trouble" with my boss. Go figure.

Maybe I'm now getting the hang of the writing, too.

How do I reconcile to having no control? I pray a lot. Really.

MaryF said...

I'm right there with you, hon!