In December I did an intensive Improve and Writing class at The Second City. In March I went to the first Satire and Humor Festival in New York City. For April, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo (the mid-year call-to-action for November’s National Novel Writing Month). All of this started with one of my goals for this year: to write funnier. And, specifically to master satire writing on command.
Practice makes perfect
Chris Brogan of Owner.Media says “your day is your week is your month is your year.” So if my year goal is to write funnier, then what will I do today toward that goal?
What I learned at one of the Satire and Humor Festival workshops is that for a good satire article, you get only one joke in an article. And you have to have a strong point of view. Part of practice for this can be reading daily headlines and articulating a reaction to it. Also noting what I find funny in the news.
For example the first ever all-female spacewalk was cancelled because NASA did not have enough space suits in the right size. Actually one of the women was replaced by a man because they had a suit that fit him. I also found the “Testicular Bill of Rights, ” a proposed bill by a Georgia lawmaker in objection to an abortion bill moving through state legislature. Both stories are ripe for satire (although I think the latter actually was satire, albeit a true news story.)
Setting up structure when you work alone (and have a million other things to do.)
What do you need to keep you on track? To keep you accountable? I own my own business and work on my own. Of course happy clients and associated client deadlines keep my days structured. But I know what works and what doesn’t for me (hint—learn what works for you and what doesn’t.) Purely online, pre-recorded programs do not work for me. A bi-weekly “Book Accountability” call with real people does. A weekly class that is far and where parking is expensive will be too stressful. Online courses maybe, but more if they are time delineated with homework and deadlines and an instructor giving real-time feedback.
Camp NaNoWriMo is working for now–I’m on 9,167 words toward a commitment of 30,000 for the month. But I also have a friend in real life also doing it, for added accountability.
Enjoy small wins along the way. I was invited to speak for two to three minutes during a Women’s Seder at my synagogue—and got two laughs. One was for reading the title of Sarah Cooper’s book, “How to be Successful without Hurting Men’s Feelings.” But then I got the added fun of posting this on Twitter and having Sarah herself approve.
I loved when the people eavesdropping from table next to me at a diner in NYC finally burst out with “Are you in show business?” They overheard me talk about my conversation with X Mayo, writer for The Trevor Noah show and a panelist at the Satire Festival. And there was getting called on stage at The Second City when I used my free ticket from the December intensive. I was a celebrity, showered with accolades as I walked through the crowd after the show.
Break your Dream into Bite-size pieces
It’s easy to stop at what you can’t do. However, I learned from my child when he was little (from his relentless negotiating, li’l punkin’) that if you keep digging deeper, you get to what you can do.
My saying no was his dare to find what I would be okay with. “Can I stay up and watch an entire movie right now?” No, I say to this two-hour commitment. “How about one Scooby Doo?” No, I say, although we are down to 45 minutes. He can see me wavering. “SpongeBob! Come on, it’s only 20 minutes, and then I PROMISE I’ll go to bed.” He got me—20 minutes I can do.
And you can too.
- What’s the thing you really want to do?
- What’s the thing that you can do today that is a “logical” step along the way?
- Do it.
Back to the “write funnier” goal. I know, goals are supposed to be measurable, and simply writing funnier is too subjective to measure. The measurable version of that might be “I will write and submit a funny article that will be accepted and published on an established satire site.”
Yes, and it took dipping my toes in the water and just doing to see the goal.
What’s an action you can take today toward your big goal?