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Wednesday
Aug252010

9 Tips For Every Humor Writer

You'd think since Mike Sacks had the chance to pick the brains of the biggest forces in comedy with And Here's the Kicker, he might have learned a thing or two about how the world works. And he has! At the end of our Q&A the other day, he offered some guidance for the writers amongst us.

As far as specific pieces of advice, here is some of what I learned. This would be both for those writers wanting to improve their situation or for those young writers just starting out. In no particular order:

#1. Network often and surround yourself with as many talented people as possible. Don't look at it as being a competition. It's hard enough to make it alone, and it'll only help to go through the process with others. More opportunities will open for you.

#2. Write every day. Or try to.

#3. Be wary of classes. They're usually taught by either academics or by writers who haven't been too successful themselves. In the end, you're going to have to teach yourself anyway.

#4. Read as much as possible, both the good and the bad. Sometimes it's more important to know what NOT to write.

#5. Don't limit yourself to humor. Read a lot of non-fiction on all sorts of topics.

#6. Experience as much as possible.

#7. If you do receive advice from someone, and it's negative, don't be upset. Then again, it could be bad advice. Show your work to someone who's comedic sensibility you trust.

#8. Sometimes it's just as difficult to get published in smaller publications than the big ones. Approach the publication you're most interested in. Writing is not like major league baseball, where, if you're talented, you get "called up" to the majors after performing in the minors for a few years. Go straight for what you want. You may not get it, but you'll learn in the process.

#9. Check the masthead for magazines, and pick out someone in the middle, such as an Associate Editor. Then send some ideas and make sure they're tailored to the magazine. Make the pitch email short, no more than four paragraphs.

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