Controlling your inner control freak

Are you able to seek out help on a project when you need it?

This has historically been . . . a problem area for me. And I suspect for many other writers as well.

I first gravitated toward writing because it was something I could accomplish myself. Unlike a movie director, I wouldn’t have to rustle up a massive team to build the world in my head. I would play not just the scriptwriter, but also the set designer, the cameraman, the costume designer, etc. My “actors” would never flub their lines or show up high.

Basically I could do it all without having to worry about managing others, or about potential compromise. Then I could put my own name in big letters on the cover of the finished product.

But you know what, any creative enterprise ends up being, to some extent, a team effort. And writing is no exception. Once I finished those novel drafts, I needed an editor to identify my weak spots and offer improvements. I needed beta readers to catch more little stuff and provide valuable gut reactions. I needed a cover designer to make something to catch people’s eyes in the first place.

I couldn’t go it alone. Because I couldn’t get everything right on my own. None of us can.

I still have trouble with the lesson sinking in. I couldn’t just let cover designers do their thing with Player Choice and The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley; I had to provide the exact images I wanted, and in the case of the latter, I felt I had to actually lay out the cover myself, and only ceded control on the question of what fonts to use.

And lately, I’m spending far too much time creating entire fucking posters for the upcoming flagship events of New Hampshire Writers’ Week—after conceptualizing, creating, and booking the events myself, creating, collecting, and assessing entries for the contest to determine the events’ speakers myself, and I could go on but it wears me out just writing about it.

Doing all this extra stuff myself scratches the control-freak itch, but it also drives me just a little bit insane. And my wife a lot bit insane. Less insanity would be a laudable goal. So, too, would superior results. Since I’m not actually a real designer, or marketer, or whatever, I ought to be turning to the people who are good and real in those essential fields.

I’m hoping to get better at letting go. Knowing when to entrust pieces of a project in other people’s hands. It’s going to take a little more faith in others, and a little more practice at “project management,” the fine art of making sure other people get their shit done. But these are valuable life skills anyway, no?

How about you—have you had trouble relinquishing control over absolutely every detail on something like this?

Been busy proofreading The Pseudo-Chronicles of Mark Huntley: Part 3. I expect to have it for sale on Amazon on November 3. In the meantime, don’t forget to catch up on Mark Huntley with Parts 1 and 2. Readers are calling this serialized horror novel “awesome,” “thrilling,” and “compelling.” Not bad, right?

Author: Jeff Deck

Author and administrator of this site.