What Writers Need to Accept About Control

Control freaks, listen up.


On the outside, the idea of being a writer seems rather glamourous. Apparently, getting to choose your own hours, write what you want when you want – from wherever you want – has no downsides. You’re in complete control of everything. Aren’t you?

Sure, there are circumstances in which a writer has more control over their success than someone in a more traditional profession. But writing for a living runs much deeper than that.

For as many things as there are under your control as a writer, there are plenty more things you have no control over at all. You have no control over who accepts your manuscripts and who doesn’t. You have no control over who chooses to read what you post online and who doesn’t. You have no control over what your audience says about you and/or your work. None. At all. Ever.

We use tools like social media and try to come up with strategies to influence people to do what we want – read, rate, comment, review, etc. But it’s really all just an attempt to control things we can’t. We’re writers, not magicians. We’re conversationalists, not dictators.

What do you, then, have control over as a writer?

You are in control of when and where you write. You are in control of what you write about and why – even if you have clients who tell you what they want, you chose that job. Whatever you reason for signing that contract, no one forced you to do it. It’s your signature.

You are in control of why you write … as well as why you don’t.

Writing, after all, is a choice. Sometimes a thousand things are going wrong in our lives, and as tragic as that is, we can either use it as an excuse to not write or let it be our excuse to write more.

You are in control of what you read and how you respond. You are in control of holding up your halves of relationships with other readers and writers, whether they hold up theirs or not. You are in control of your attitude and your behaviors. If something doesn’t go your way, you are in control of whether you lay down and quit or get up and try again.

You cannot make other people like you or recommend you or work with you. But you can give them enough reasons to increase the probability that they will decide to do those things on their own.

You can write as many articles, stories, poems, novels or screenplays as it takes for someone, even just one person, to say, “Wow. You work really hard. I admire that.”

You can choose to lift other people up, and critique their work, and be kind.

As writers, there are things we can control, and things we can’t.

But don’t you ever let your lack of control make your decisions for you. Embrace the reality that all you can do is your best. Whether others meet you halfway is up to them. Just keep focusing on what you need to do to be the best you can be. Those who appreciate that, those who want to work with someone like you, those who value your words, they will follow you. At their own will. Eventually.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of pexels.com.

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