The workshop for humor writing, human interest writing, networking and getting published

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Eat-sleep-write (not necessarily in that order)

Writers write, Angela Weight reminds us:

To gain success as a writer, whether as a hobby or author of the next smashing bestseller, it’s vital to develop a strong habit of writing something everyday. Every. Single. Day. A habit like brushing your teeth (or breathing … if you don’t have teeth).

Even when the laundry’s piled to the ceiling, you have the sniffles, your boss is being an immature jerk, you have jury duty, PTA and whining kids, still make time to write at least a couple of paragraphs … about anything.

What you write each day doesn’t have to be for publication. It’s simply about developing the habit, the practice of stringing words together, defining your personal style and of summoning that creative spark.

For example, yesterday was hectic enough to leave me cross-eyed. After eight hours at my job, making dinner and wrangling kids to bed I didn’t feel like working on magazine articles or even updating my blog. However, I wrote a couple of paragraphs about how funny my boss looks when he gets angry. I described in detail the vein that pops out of his forehead, the magenta shade that his ears turn and how his pupils retract down to the size of BB’s. It was an entertaining bit of descriptive writing that charged my batteries enough to want to work on the paying assignments.

In order to write well, you have to be willing to write. Period. No excuses! As dozens of writer friends have said, sit your butt in the chair and start writing. You’ll feel like writing after you get started.

—Angela Weight

To read more of Angela Weight’s habitual writings, visit

Registration is now open!

Registration for the 2012 Bombeck Workshop is now open and will continue on a first-come, first-served basis until sold out. Past workshops have sold out quickly, sometimes in days, closing out literally hundreds of writers who missed their opportunity to attend. To register, simply follow this link:

After you register, be sure to share the news with friends via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all of those old-fashioned real-world ways!

See you in April!


Current events are funny

Need a jumping off point? Rose Valenta says look no farther than the morning news.
Do you often suffer from writer’s block? You need a quiet place to write and some inspiration. If you happen to live in a household with teenagers and grumpy old folks with no available quiet space, not even in the basement, there is a solution. You can go to your local sporting goods store and purchase a pair of earmuffs designed to protect you from ear damage caused by rapid machine gun fire (Xbox) or transient impact noise.
You should only wear them while writing for an hour or two, so you won’t miss the kids trying to kill each other in the next room.
Now, about the inspiration: I always check the news sites. There is nothing funnier than reading about a politician trying to get himself out of a jam or someone getting detained by a TSA agent at the airport. You can brain dump about what you are reading and before you know it, you’ll have a humorous column. You can see one of mine on my blog after I read about the 2012 Obama campaign.

A peek inside the Bombeck Workshop

What’s it like be at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop? Really inspiring, not too overwhelming, really fun.
That’s the upshot of a conversation between two past attendees who are coming back in 2012 as faculty members: Tracy Beckerman and Nancy Berk. They talk about the workshop, what they’ve learned and why they keep coming back on today’s episode of Berk’s podcast Whine at 9.
Registration opens tomorrow at noon. Hope to see you in April!

Can you be a humorist and a full-time corporatoid?

Ivy Eisenberg offers some advice for finding humor while on the hamster wheel:
It’s 12:02 PM. I’m in my corporate office in a pin-striped suit. I am writing jokes. They are not “for work,” though you can bet a number of them are about work. I’ve been working full-time for 28 years — just until my humor career takes off. Though I can’t afford to quit work, I refuse to stop writing.
Here are my strategies: I carry notebooks and pens in my handbag. I carry a digital recorder to capture my comedy nuggets while I’m driving. I use a little flash drive so I can carry my drafts to and from the office without leaving them on my work hard drive. I always have Post-its in case hauling out a notebook is too obtrusive during a meeting. Finally, I spend my lunch hour with all those funny voices in my head, those voices who can turn any workday disaster into a good laugh.
Ivy Eisenberg has been writing, storytelling, and performing humor for more than 20 years. Check out her blog at

So, you got a TV gig …

Erma Bombeck was very comfortable in front of a television camera. (See her here on Oprah. Her segment begins at the :55 mark.)

TV doesn’t always come so naturally to writers, though. Syndicated columnist Tracy Beckerman has done her share of TV appearances and offers some tricks of the trade:


I recently met a guy and was introduced to him as a humor writer.
“Oh, cool,” he said. “Say something funny.” I didn’t really have a funny response so I just karate-chopped him instead. It worked: It made him forget he asked me to say something funny.
This is a problem a lot of humor writers encounter: the expectation that we can perform funny, whether socially, on stage, or on camera, simply because we write humor. There are some of us who can do that successfully, but for many, there is a good reason why we spend our time behind a computer screen and not on a TV screen. However, since getting the word out about what you write often necessitates public appearances, and even sometimes TV appearances, it is helpful for those of us who are a little camera shy to have some tricks up our sleeve on the off chance The Today Show calls:
1. Try to find out what the questions are in advance. Not always possible, but usually you can at least get a general topic or focus from the producer so you can prepare some funny responses in advance and not have to rely on making fun of the host’s bad plastic surgery.
2. Have a couple of funny stories in your pocket that you can pull out no matter what the question is. A good lawyer always has a response ready no matter what gets thrown at him in court. A good humorist should have a funny retort ready at all times that does not include the release of bodily gases.
3. Wear something funny. Not your whole outfit, because then you just look like a lunatic, but one thing that is comment-worthy. The interviewer will definitely mention it and then you can say something funny about it, or …
4. Bring a visual aid. Don’t overdue this (I mean, I wouldn’t bring a goat on the show with you), but something that can help you make a funny point. For instance, one time I brought a bumper sticker I made that said, “Reluctant Minivan Driver On Board.” (Trust me, it was funnier in context).
5. When all else fails and you are sure you are going to screw up, give the camera guy and the director mass quantities of chocolate before the shoot. That way they’ll make you look good no matter how badly you do on camera.
—Tracy Beckerman
Tracy Beckerman writes the syndicated humor column and blog “Lost in Suburbia.”

Got your trophy husband?

Lisa Tognola’s parody ad for a “Hunk of the Month” club (made of “medical grade plastic … as close as you’ll get to the real thing”) is included in the new Valentine’s Day anthology My Funny Valentine. The compilation’s editors came to her, she said.
“Since creating my blog last summer, I’ve benefited from increased exposure online. The co-author of My Funny Valentine spotted my work and suggested I submit a Valentine’s Day themed piece for consideration in her book,” she said.
The collection was released Nov. 30.

Making an impression by doing one

Humorist, speaker and mad genius E. Mitchell says she’s had success standing out from the crowd by blending in with the styles of other writers:
Looking for ways to invigorate your writing career? There are a number of prestigious humor writing competitions that turn the sincerest form of flattery — imitation — into an art form for fun and profit. In addition to the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition (which commences January 3, 2012), there are many mirthful masters to choose from with rewards for your résumé, plus revenue.
My second place win in the Will Rogers Writing Competition included remuneration for registration to their writers’ conference, where I received invaluable publishing and networking information. As winner of the Thurber Treat Writing Contest, I was a featured guest at the Thurber House literary picnic. An imitation of Edward Albee won the Happy Tales Literary Contest, including a cash award. (I’m also a two-time Robert Benchley finalist). And publication was the prize for penning a winning essay in a parody competition found in the new book “Bad Austen” (Adams Media).
So exercise your writing muscle by channeling the masters, and you just might increase your chances of channeling success through publication and promotion.
—E. Mitchell

Reflections of Erma