Some General Writing Tips

Now that you know the Funny Five, here are a few more personal rules or tips you can use to make your writing — and the writing process — more effective:

  • Find time to write. Make sure to set aside some time every day to write something or at least look over the notes you may have jotted down during the day.

  • Don't force it. If ideas aren't coming, take a break. Walk away from what you're writing and come back to it later. Sometimes seeing your work with a fresh set of eyes can work wonders.

  • Expand your vocabulary. Always have a dictionary and a thesaurus handy. A slang dictionary can be especially useful.

  • If you're having trouble writing something, say it out loud. Walk around and verbally brainstorm it. Also, try drawing your thoughts on paper.

  • Doodle. Keep a sketch pad handy when you're relaxing and watching TV. This free form of expression is good for helping you subconsciously release ideas.

  • Comedy writing is like sculpting; you really get your hands dirty crafting jokes. Add a little here, and take away some there. You are basically organizing chaos, so expect it to be messy.

  • Be suspicious of an idea that comes too quickly. Beware of jokes that just “happen.” There is always the chance that you're just remembering something you heard somewhere before. It happens to everyone. If you run across a suspect joke, check it out. Do a web search. Ask other comics. Once you get the all clear, it's all yours.

  • Write your pacing into the jokes by using ellipses. It may not be grammatically correct, but remember, you're out to break the rules. To the reader what's more effective: “Ready, set, go!” or “Ready … set … go!”? Timing is really important in comedy, and your writing should show it.

When you're writing, or even just trying to get the creative juices flowing, keep these tips in mind. And remember, this is comedy. Don't put too much pressure on yourself; make it fun!

If I think of a joke, perform it on stage, but never actually put pen to paper and write it down, is that still writing?

Absolutely! You can write things without writing them down. In fact, sometimes it's best to just say your ideas out loud. Comedy writing is just the process of thinking of funny thoughts. Someone says something and you think of something funny, on the spot, as a response. That's writing, plain and simple.

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