From Write to Done: How to write funny

Source: Write to Done
Source: Write to Done

Is there a sure-fire way to make someone chuckle? A secret word? A fancy structure? Maybe there’s an equation? Nope. The truth is that humor isn’t funny. You’re backpedaling now and re-reading the title aren’t you? Well, don’t worry because this is, in fact, an article on how to write funny. But the point of this is that if you look too closely at humor, jokes, and comedy skits – it isn’t funny. Most humorous statements are implausible and plausible at the same time, but the catch is that it must be more implausible than plausible.

Comedy is usually inappropriate for the situation and outrageous in context, but it keeps your audience from realizing that humor isn’t funny. Humor is downright logical. For example, most knock-knock jokes are about word play and have a strict structure about them. “Knock Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Doris!” “Doris who?” “Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.” Knock-knock jokes revolve around the identity of the person or thing knocking on the door. The absurdity comes from the mash up of the announced identity of the knocker and the prodding additional question “Who?” of the one who answers the door. Now, doesn’t that take all the fun out of knock-knock jokes? I’ve stripped the jokes of their humor by looking too much into it. Humor is logical because it’s all about the undeniable truth. Exposing the nugget of honesty in the bowl of absurdity. Read more about funny writing at Write to Done.

Fake It Till You Make It

Does your confidence change when your writing receives a rejection? That shouldn’t be the case. Instead bounce back by following The Renegade Writers advise: 5 ways to fake confidence in your next article pitch. It’s better to fake confidence, rather then to appear as if you have no confidence. It is important to eliminate wishy-washy wording, such as “I could interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition.” Versus “I will interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition; I’ve already lined up some moms who are willing to talk.” If you have no confidence in yourself and your work, why should others? Focus on the positive, and ditch the negative. You want to tell an editor what you can do, not what you can’t. So never expose what you can’t do by making excuses for what you haven’t done. It’s okay to fake it till you make it.   

Avoid Wearing P.J.s When Working At Home

UntitledIf you are planning to be a freelance writer, here are some words of advice, “Do not dream about working in your pajamas.” A common misconception is that writers sit at home sipping coffee or tea in nightclothes and write. But your P.J.s don’t work, and actually can decrease productivity.

Make a Living Writing explains why the freelance dream of working in P.J.s is total B.S. Staying in bed and not getting dressed equals no transition. Even if you’re going to stay home all day, still get up and dress up. I promise, you will feel how much it changes your productivity. Make your home an office and treat it like an actual work setting by dressing for work. Save the P.J.s for casual Fridays.

Culture Shock: Moving Accounts of Teaching and Learning

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.48.16 PM“You must be in culture shock, right?” Miss Hass’s teaching intern meant well. My steely look somehow convinced her to go on: “I mean coming to this place must be so different.”  She knew I had just arrived from upstate New York the month before to sit in the first class of my senior year at San Bernadino High School. Picture Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club anticipating Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice— that was me. Grim. Disengaged. Pissed at the world.

When our rust-belt poverty resulted in a second eviction notice in 4 years, Mom read this as an invitation to southern California’s sun-belt opportunity. So we packed what we could into a UHAUL (sleeping accommodations on the roof), and we drove the 2673 miles from Corning, New York to 29 Palms, California. My brother, a Marine stationed there, put us up until we could get on our feet. Mom found us a home in San Bernardino a few months later, and I began my senior year of high school, the only white-looking, punk girl in my English class. These superfacial differences aside, I was checked out of school, felt under-challenged, and dropped out for a month or so before eventually going back to finish.

I began to resolve my culture shock after two years of working at the Jack in the Box on Baseline and Waterman. I enrolled full time in California State University, San Bernadino, an open enrollment university, and worked my way through, mostly in fast food and retail for 25-30 hours a week.

When I did get into classes, my writing was awful: fragmented thinking led to equally fragmented writing. Ideas dolloped on the page like layers of a bean dip. With similes about that bad. But I loved reading, and words helped me make sense of my experience. So I began paying attention to the writers who were turning phrases in ways that made sense to me. I went through more writing styles than Madonna identities. Eventually, during my junior and senior years when classes got smaller, a few encouraging professors listened to what I was trying to say and I began to improve.

Over the years, that idea of culture shock has begun to make more sense to me as a teacher and learner. It has influenced my faculty development workshops and teaching philosophy.

More importantly, culture shock as a theory, can help us make sense of the struggles that come with loss and migration. It can help us put words to the foreignness of coming to a new country, region, or college. It can help us tell the stories behind the steely looks. Professor Cheryl Caesar developed a site that does just this. Students writing for this site voice their struggles when coming to a place like Michigan State University, help each other find resources, and share their stories. Visit: for more stories.

Visit Ellen’s website for the full post: “Culture Shock