Sometimes you have to know what’s not funny before you’re ever able to sit down and actually write about the things that are…
That’s my theory, anyways, because let me tell you what a dead end, frustrating as you try to figure out where in the hell you can do a u-turn kind-of road that can be when you finally realize you’ve spent the last hour and a half stringing together a series of random ideas that truth be told just aren’t nearly as funny as you had originally thought! Or maybe they’re funny all by themselves, but more in the vein of “I could post an amusing 140-character tweet about that!” instead of the “I could ramble on for 650 words…”-vibe that I’m actually shooting for with these weekly episodic anecdotes of mine!
And so because few things suck worse than discovering that now I get to completely redo one of the most mind-numbingly arduous parts of my creative process all over again, I guess you could say that over the years I’ve sort of worked out the following little “system” that I walkthrough in an attempt to avoid falling face first down such tumultuous rabbit holes on any given week:
- Make a list with as many ideas as possible.
- Cross out all the ones that aren’t actually funny.
- Write a hilarious humor column based on one of the ideas left remaining after step #2.
Believe it or not, that second one can often times be the hardest … although #3 ain’t exactly no picnic, either – do you have any idea how many different kinds of pie there are?! And just like all of the countless varieties of delicious pie that a connoisseur like myself has to choose from on any given day, far too often it seems like those topics of potential funniness just seem to cascade themselves up and down both sides of the menu, each with their own alluring toppings and flavors, and sometimes it almost breaks my heart to have to scratch ones like The Serious Problem That Is … Bread Butts or A Column Regarding Nostril Maintenance off the list…
But a good writer has to know when to walk away from a good joke for the chance at finding an even better one.
You see, as a creator it’s easy to sink into the feeling that each and every idea is sacred, like a crisp apple pie just waiting to win a blue ribbon at the county fair … but the fact of the matter is, sometimes we accidentally buy apples that are too tart or sometimes we forget that baking soda and baking powder aren’t the same thing, and the sooner you get that through your thick, baker/writer skull, the easier this job of making delicious pies that everyone’s going to laugh their heads off about will be! It’s ok to admit that a story just doesn’t have as much substance as you had originally thought, so instead of driving yourself batty trying to add even more ingredients to your pie in an attempt to salvage a little humor out of it, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just pitch that half-baked pie right out the window and start to work on a brand new pie that you can make even better than the last!
I hear that pumpkin pie can make for a surprising treat this time of year… *wink wink*
For every hilarious topic on your list, there are always another 10 that just aren’t quite there yet, and whether you choose to cast them off like a pair of old socks that’s devolved into something more holey than socky or simply set them off to the side to revisit again another day when you’ve got some excess creativity to kill and you’re not staring down the barrel of tomorrow’s deadline – that I’ll leave up to you. Sometimes you can tune a fish but you can’t tune a bad joke, and sometimes you just want to finish this stupid column so that you can go have another piece of pie…
Hope this helps!