What Advice Do You Have for a Beginning Humor Writer

Writing humor is an eighteen-hour-a-day assignment, which means new ideas pop into your head anytime, anyplace. Some claim humor can be conceived even when you dream, so keep a notebook by your bedside.

Once you've learned the basic techniques, don't let anybody talk you out of writing your own way. Humor styles change with each generation and, while formulas rarely vary, standard subject matter, formats, fads, and characterizations are constantly being challenged. New ideas are the lifeblood of comedy, as they are of most businesses. And most new ideas take at least three years to germinate.

There are two other essential elements—luck and perseverance. Some claim they go together—that the luckiest people are those who worked the hardest. In any case, you must be your own publicist. That generally means having confidence in your own material and ability. The business is so competitive that self-effacing writers rarely make it. If you can't sell yourself, how are you going to have the ability to sell a few sheets of paper with gag lines on them? You'll more likely gag first.

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