Dear Doctor T.,

The absolute worst part of the holidays wasn’t the travel travails, shopping stress, or even the heated family political arguments. It was the incessant questions from so called well-meaning family and friends:

Stop listing to your doubts about being a real writer.

You still doing that writing thing?

So when are we going to see your name on the big screen?

You’re not a kid anymore. Isn’t it time you gave up this writing stuff and got a real job?

It completely knocked the wind out of my sails. I feel discouraged, demoralized, and deflated.

This wouldn’t suck so much if they weren’t saying aloud what that little voice in my head is constantly whispering:

If I haven’t sold anything, am I even a real writer?

What am I supposed to say to these people? I can’t even answer this for myself.

Kill. Me. Now.

Dear K.M.N.,

First, step away from the sharp objects.

Now, a little perspective from someone smarter than me:

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it to please yourself, then you do it to please others, and then you do it for the money.”

Ferenc Molnár, (1878-1952) noted Hungarian-born playwright and novelist whose works were often adapted for television and film, including Carousel

So why haven’t you sold anything?

Stop listening to that insidious voice in your head!

Yes, that voice sucks. It sucks up your time and energy like the needy one in a bad relationship.

Listen to the voice that whispers these sweet somethings:

Ooh, that would be a cool character!

What if I flipped that scene around?

This might be a banging idea for a story…

Grab your balls, dude. Time to be an eager beaver, not an eager to pleaser.

As Ferenc said, you’ve got to please yourself first, then please others, before you get paid like a pro.

Focus on what matters – generating great story ideas that excite you, building a network of connections who can get busy boosting your career when they’re turned on your material, and relentlessly up your execution so that when your amazing ideas are brought to their attention by your network, industry insiders will be eager to jump into bed with you.

Stop listing to your doubts about being a real writer.

That’s how you become a real writer.

As for how to respond to these insensitive naysayers, I’ve always been fond of saying:

Thank you for asking.

Short and sweet. Incredibly effective at ending the conversation. Shuts it down.

You appreciate their interest.

End of story.

Listen up kid, and stop letting these clowns get you down.

Love You/Mean It, Paige

P.S. If you have a response to these “well-intentioned” questions, pleases share in the comments below!