Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What to Do When the Writing Life Has You Down

We writers by and large are a serious lot. We work long hours by ourselves with nothing but negative feedback and crushing rejections to show for it. And that's when we can come up with something to write. We have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and go back into the fray, time after time, for years. For decades. We suffer family and friends who think we’re losers at best, insane at worst. “Still haven’t published a book, yet, huh?” 

Then even when we do publish a book, our pay is abysmal, we have to change the parts we love, releases get postponed indefinitely, reviewers pan them, people who haven't even read our books give us one star, and then the publisher goes out of business.

No wonder we’re not laughing.

But here's the thing. That’s the only way we'll stay sane, let alone produce more work. We have to laugh in the face of the pain and fear and darkness.

Resentment, envy, stalking, crying, martyrdom--these don’t work. On a long term basis, anyway.

Mark Twain, who was a writer after all, said, "The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."

We've got to do it more.

But how?

I couldn't think of a darn thing. So I took a poll in my house, wherein live several jokers. Then surveyed a few funny friends. Here are some ideas to get you laughing, in no particular order:

1. Hang out with four year olds. They’re generally hilarious.

2. Get together with old friends and tell embarrassing and painful stories.

3. Put scrambled eggs in your flip-flops. That feels pretty funny.

4. Read Captain Underpants (if you're a seven year-old boy).

5. Go to a comedy club.

6. Watch America’s Funniest Home Videos.

6. YouTube clips

This list could use some augmentation. Got any ideas for how to laugh more? Don’t hold back. Our sanity may depend on it.

Ann Jacobus's YA thriller debut, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light will be out from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press on October 6. Find out more here, follow her @annjacobusSF, or on Facebook.


  1. Wonderful, and oh, so relevant.

    My go-to place for relief is Bad Lip reading on YouTube. It never fails.

    Thanks, Ann!

    1. Absolutely! Bad lip-reading is my favorite way to watch the NFL. Love it.

  2. Heck, I read Captain Underpants at 40. Still made me laugh. I recommend watching the Marx Brothers too (with your 7 year son). A hoot!

    1. Agree, Gayle, about Captain Underpants. And 7 yr. olds can be one of the most delightful tour guides for a fresh take on the absurdity and humor in the world. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I do rely on my young boys to make me laugh - my 8 year old, in particular, is quite the ham. And we've read the whole Captain Underpants series. Lately, the thing that's gotten me to laugh on my darkest writing days is Parks & Recreation. I never watched it when it was on, so I'm binging it on Netflix and just one episode is like a quick fix.

  4. Netflix sitcom quick fixes or even marathons are great therapy. Thanks for the Parks & Recreation tip, Natasha!