The Writer’s Well Episode 182: What things in writing are out of your control?

After going “round and round” about Ratt, Rachael asks J. about the things in writing that can or can’t be controlled.

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23 thoughts on “The Writer’s Well Episode 182: What things in writing are out of your control?”

  1. Morning guys. Great question Rachael.
    Agree with J we can’t control outcome, despite a lot of “gurus” claiming they have some amazing marketing process. Films are a great analogy, as is music; all the best players don’t always make the best product.
    This is why I ignore anyone who uses the word “must” in connection with writing, publishing and marketing.
    This question suggests a way forward is to have a feedback loop as part of the process; a “continual improvement process” to steal a term from industry. And I think we should not be afraid to try new things, for example writing in a new genre.
    The most important thing is to make sure we have a hand in the game which means keep on writing and publishing.
    Great show.

  2. I’m going to take a trip one week so I am in a time zone before Chris and can answer all the podcast questions before he does. 🙂
    While there are things you can’t control, the whole reason I like indy publishing is because of so much that you can control. To me, the horror of having a book published or not being dependent on some company is the worst ever. Or not being able to use your own characters and stories in any way you want – that’s insane to me. Or being told you have to have something done at this time. Then worse – it still isn’t published on time or at all.
    By being indy, we do control most of that – good and bad. And while we can’t control sales or what people buy and like, we can definitely hedge our bets in that area by constantly working to improve and keep up with what is happening in the world and market. While sales can’t be directly controlled – we can improve our cover and blurb to raise sales. We can learn to make effective ads to raise sales. And we can always put out a better book than the last one.

  3. Taking this in a slightly different direction, I can’t control my feeling of duty to my family and my business partners. This leaves a narrow sliver of free time for writing that I CAN control, but don’t always do it effectively. Sometimes just knowing how little time I have to work on writing makes me choose to do something else that day. I know that’s wrong, but so are doughnuts and I have cut them out yet either. Changing behavior is difficult.
    For now I’m reading Atomic Habits, and trying – despite the pandemic – to lower my business debt to the point that I can sell or close the business in order to concentrate on writing.

  4. Ratt! I saw them back in the 80’s! I had the biggest crush on their lead guitarist, Warren DeMartini. 😀

    In terms of creativity, one thing I can’t control is how and when ideas will come to me. I can only control whether I use them, and even then it’s iffy. Some ideas just won’t let go no matter how much I want to move on.

    I actually find great solace in the randomness of the world. I like that so many things are left up to chance. It’s freeing.

  5. I LOVE this question and this episode so much because it gets to the heart of so much anguish writers needlessly put themselves through, myself included. Can’t top J’s answer of being in control of the process but not the outcome. How elegantly perfect, should be on a sticky note on every writer’s computer. Rachel, would love to see you adapt the Serenity Prayer to apply to writers! Rock on, you two.

    1. Stephanie, YES! I’ve done it for my classes! (Specifically when Covid-19 started.) I just dug it up and here it is!

      Please, grant me the serenity to accept it when I cannot write,
      The courage to write when I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

      Because sometimes we just can’t! And that’s okay!
      <3

  6. Others may disagree but I feel as if I can’t control my scheduled time to write. I tend to do much of my writing in the early AM while my wife is out running, yet the kids are still in bed. I also block out writing time at night as everyone in the house is winding down for the day. But my day job has made it so sometimes I have to go in early, stay late or both. Some nights my son, who has anxiety issues, needs me to sit with him. Some mornings the kids don’t sleep as late or the dog wants extra attention.

  7. I think you captured the big issue quite will in this episode but I’d like to restate it with this paraphrase of the words of Joshua Pantalleresco of the Just Joshing Podcast:

    The paradox of success is that you can do everything right and still fail, but you guarantee failure if you do nothing.

  8. I know some will disagree but I feel like at this stage in my career I have little control over my time to write. Currently, I block out my early morning and night time to write. But day job and family sometimes cut into that time. Lately, I have been asked to come in early, stay late, or both. My son has been having anxiety issues so some nights I sit and talk with him before he can get to sleep.

  9. I loved this episode and the question. As always, there are many lenses through which you can look at it.

    There’s so much we can’t control. Outcome, as J said, being an important one, but there’s also the response of the reader and the personal personal history that colours the interpretation they bring to any piece of work we put out. A different type of outcome than measurable success, but super important.
    In what I do control, mindset and process are important. But mostly, for me, it’s how I react to the things outside my control. Even if I can’t change those, I can change my own response to them.

    Oh, and Rachael, I’m is in Belgium, just south of Holland (really close though!), and you both don’t join her on her walks but on her bycicle rides to and from work. My walks involve wrangling four active dogs so I need my focus there instead of on a podcast.

  10. Great question and lack of control is something I have been applying to my life for a while now in general, and with my writing. And not being bothered by it is wonderfully freeing, taking each day one at a time, and aiming to be better at living than the day before.
    I agree with so many of the comments re being an indie and ideas but there are more aspects i cannot control-
    I can’t control the flow, some days I can write loads and others there is only a trickle
    I can’t control my mood which will effect my writing
    I can’t control my neighbours who decide to start mowing their lawn or chatting on the phone as I settle in the quiet space to write.
    I can’t control nature who likes to disturb me with interesting things to watch or listen to.
    I can control my reaction to everything, and that’s what I concentrate on.
    I have recently released a book – Colours of Rain – I can’t control who buys it but I can be elated when someone does.
    🙂

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