I was speaking with a friend recently about why people, particularly creative types, become unable to create something they know they’re perfectly capable of creating. I think it’s because when people create something, they’re putting a part of themselves out there, and because the work is an extension of themselves, they often get too invested in it.
In short, we care too much.
I used to think writing perfectionism was all about quality control, but control can really only come from a place of love.
Appropriately, Strapping Young Lad’s song comes to mind, particularly these lines:
Love: the paradox of needing
I know what I stand for: I stand for me
This love, it’s about control
You care about writing so much that you want to control it. Unfortunately, your characters often don’t want to be controlled. Even though you plotted your story, your characters are unpredictable and can end up either disappointing you or exceeding your expectations greatly, and this is neither good nor bad, just the way things are.
In the past week, I felt old habits creep up again. I started caring too much about the Long-Suffering Manuscript, and wanted to control it. Ever feel like you’re about to open Pandora’s Box? That’s where I am, and where I have been multiple times, except this time I’m not going to open it.
I’m taking a break from the work until I know I can approach it as a friend instead of a butcher. This might take a few days. I’ve been getting better at recognizing when I need to take a break, so I’m betting on a week, tops.
It’s time to lose the control but not the love.
Millie’s Note: What’s your take on writing and control?