Entertain Yourself. The Others Can Wait.

I think a lot of writers hate themselves, at least a little. We desperately want to have someone look at our writing and tell us that it’s good, that they want to publish it, and that we are worthy of the career we’ve been pursuing. We want readers and respect and most of all, validation.

But every writer I know, at least the ones who are apprenticing the hell out of their work and constantly trying to get better, also have this fear that they don’t measure up. That they probably never will. And in their quiet time, when no one’s around, they wonder if they should just stop. If they should finally let go of the writing and the dream and everything else that goes with it. Because belief is hard and the signs of failure are everywhere.

Not being able to believe in ourselves prevents us from believing in our work, and this is why many of us never think our stories or novels or screenplays are ready to see the light of day. For all the self-naysayers among us, I have two words for you: shut up. Your head’s in a dangerous place and you’re being self-destructive.  You aren’t preventing rejection. You’re guaranteeing a lack of success.

It’s time to stop hating on your stories. Write something you like. Write something you would want to read. Tell a story that amuses or haunts or titillates you. Work on making it the best you know how, and then let it go. Send it out into the world, and move on to the next thing. There should always be a next thing.

When it comes to my own writing, I try to make myself smile. It’s hard to laugh at your own jokes as you’re writing them, but if I do manage to pull it off, I know there’s a good chance I’ve got something good. Sometimes it’s a story. Other times it’s a chapter. I will even admit that I spent the better part of the day chuckling at a one-liner I slipped into scene.

I realize there’s a chance that my audience could eventually end up just being me. That thought is almost enough to make me want to walk away from the keyboard altogether, but I try not to. Most days I succeed. But when I make myself laugh, I’m having a good time, and it’s a good day. And when other people laugh along with me, well … that’s just about as sweet as it gets.

Larry Jenkins is an aspiring Word Pimp. Has laptop, will travel. Let's make this happen, people.

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