“What are you working on?”

For a writer, the questions, “What are you working on?” or “What is your script about?” can be very daunting. Especially if you haven’t practiced saying out loud what your story is in a succinct manner. Or if you’re having doubts about what you’re writing. Or if you just finished something and it’s just not what you wanted it to be. Then, “What is your script about?” isn’t as harmless as it sounds.

I’ve noticed a lot of writers (new writers, mostly) who, when questioned about their work, will sort of shrug off an answer, and completely downplay their writing. Or they’ll give a half assed version of their story and their voice will trail off towards the end of the explanation, then they’ll kind of apologize for the whole thing.

Example:

“It’s about this girl who’s, like, well, I haven’t really figured it out yet, but she’s having problems, so she moves back in with her parents and then like, yeah. That’s about it. I don’t know, it’s dumb, I just started it.”

writers_blockI can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a version of that. I’ve also SAID a version of that myself.

But I realized that one of our main jobs as writers is to be excited about what we’re working on. Because so much of the job is convincing others that our writing is worth their time. So here’s the cliche: If you don’t believe in your own work, no one else will believe in it either.

What I do now is, right when I start working on a new idea, I talk about it with people I’m close to. I practice explaining what it is, so when someone asks me about it, I can rattle of the story confidently. Instead of fumbling to explain it for the first time.

And when the time comes to finally let other people read what you’ve written, don’t downplay the work then, either. So often, when friends and acquaintances give me their scripts to read, it will come along with the disclaimer: “It needs a ton of work. It’s a really early draft. It sucks. I hate it.”

Friends have sent me their recently finished scripts and wrote as the subject line: “UUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHH”.

I understand where this comes from, it’s a way to protect yourself against criticism. If you tell the reader that it’s an early draft, then you’re kind of protecting your ego if they don’t like it or if they have a ton of notes.

But what about saying, “I worked really hard on this and I’m proud of it. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it.”?

Give yourself credit, admit that you worked your ass off. Love your work. ‘Cause if you don’t, why would anyone else?

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