The Illusion of Control

This one isn’t just for authors.

I learned very early in the school of hard knocks that I had very little control in life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Midwest girl, so if it’s something I DO have control of, I work hard to shape the outcome.

But sadly, there seems to be so much more we don’t have control of than we do. What’s happening politically (except to vote!) Taxes, physical/mental disabilities, homelessness, wars, inflation, etc. etc. In fact, if you turn on the news, there is almost nothing displayed there that you have control over. I think that’s why the news is such a downer, and why it upsets us so much.

As an author, the only things I control over is the book I write, and how I sell it. I can’t control reviews, rankings, movie deals, bestseller status, bookstore placement…


We can learn to live with powerlessness. My mantra is:

If I have control , work the hell out of it. If I don’t, forget it.

I know, some days it’s easier to do than others, but staying aware of it helps me stay in that happy place.

Writing has helped me get comfortable with lack of control.

I am a pantser. I don’t outline before I write – I just have a vague idea of the character, her problem, and the ending. Then I start writing. That takes faith—that when you need it, the next scene will become clear. That even though you can’t see the way through to the end, there IS a way. How do I know that? 15 books written, and my brain has come through every time.

I’ve met many people in my life who think they have control. It’s an illusion. It’s like a child who hides under the covers when he’s afraid. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist (despite a lifetime of experience telling you different).

I’m not judging, believe me. When I was young I fought with everything I had to change things I had no control over. It didn’t work, and it left me broken and discouraged.

The only alternative I found was to try to live with the knowledge and have faith that I’ll make it through to the end.

So far, it’s working.

Take a leap of faith!

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