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Humour has it

Are you the person who comes out with the one-liners? The one who sees the absurdity in situations? Someone who has a punch line for almost everything? 

Sometimes, when writing, you may put your humourous instincts aside.

You might think: I can’t say that, they will never go for that, no one will take me seriously as a writer if I slip into my funny side.

But you have an edge that other writers don’t…your sense of humour. 

KNOW YOURSELF

Is satire your go-to? Are you sarcastic? Tongue-in-cheek? Flat laugh-out-loud? Take a moment to critically examine your sense of humour. You may be a combination, depending on what you are writing and who your audience is. 

What feels right? What comes naturally? The more you know yourself, the better you will be at using your gift to enhance your work. 

If you’re not sure. Ask some people you trust to be honest. How do they describe your humour? 

You can’t force humour. If it’s not for you, there are plenty of other great styles to try. 

EMBRACE YOUR VOICE

If you are writing satire, get to know your voice. This comes through practice. If you’re not there yet, or don’t want to write a full-blown humour piece, you might want to experiment with using humour on other forms. 

You may wonder if that punch line you want to add to the end of your essay is acceptable or the aside that makes you chuckle…is it okay to put it to paper?

Absolutely. Try it out. Does it feel forced? Or is it the only line that sounds right to you? If so…great, go for it. Give yourself permission to let your voice be heard.

So long as your humour is appropriate, the worst that can happen is an editor asks you to remove it or a reader doesn’t laugh. Don’t hold back because of that. People have different tastes, that’s all. 

FIND IT 

During my career as a creative writer and producer for commercials in New York, some of the best ideas came from spit-balling concepts with other writers. Someone would make a remark that we all laughed at and I would say, ‘Write that down and use it’.

Get your own spit-balling session going with someone who shares your sense of humour. Talk about what you are going to write. Free-wheel. Be yourself.

If humour bubbles up organically, write it down.  

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

One of the most important things you need to do before you send out your work is know your audience. Take the time to research your target publication. Do they publish work that reflects your sense of humour? Are you drawn to the writers published? Do they make you smile? Can you see your work next to theirs?

Make sure your piece is a good fit before you submit. 

HAVE OPTIONS

When I worked in the TV industry, I would often have witty copy rejected. However, when I submitted the scripts, I would also include alternatives that were slightly less out-there along with a ‘safe’ option. By doing this, I gave them something to say ‘yes’ to. 

Be prepared to be flexible and give options. It’s okay. It’s still your writing but you are giving the people who publish you something they feel fits the audience or environment.  

And, if someone gives you the greenlight to write almost anything, go for it. I used to work for someone who gave me this freedom and I grasped it.

All the years of writing copy that wasn’t accepted were years spent honing my skills. 

KEEP GOING

I’ve learned that, even if I am the only one laughing at my desk when writing, it’s important to put work out there. This is how we grow as writers. 

Don’t give up. Keep being funny, sarcastic, witty or whatever’s your style. 

There will be someone who will greenlight you. You just need to find them. 

And you will.

About Pat Obermeier

Pat Obermeier is an Emmy award-winning writer and producer and author of the political satire, The President Factor, as well as the chick-lit novel, The LoveBeep.

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