Love your sense of humor.
Many of the authors that I work with want to make sure that their books come across with a sense of humor, a lightness. Perhaps that is one reason that they are drawn to work with me, as my humor comes through in my writing.
My sense of humor helped establish me as a newspaper columnist and a speaker. Please note the pronoun there. My sense of humor. We all have one, well, most people do anyway, and we need to ring true with our own sense of funny.
Mine, yours, ours. What works for you may not work for me. I am not a funny storyteller or queen of punchlines. I don’t recite jokes or have people busting their guts in laughter as I recount my daily adventures. My humor is whimsical, subtle and just sort of there. People use terms like “warm and witty” or whimsical or silly with seriousness.
When you be you in your writing, and life in general, your humor style will emerge. Your personality is uniquely yours and in essence, so is your sense of humor. We can share similar affinities for what we like, but our funny bone is our own, just like a thumbprint.
My advice is always to relax and just write. Don’t try to be funny. Forced funny falls flat. Your readers are yours because they resonate with you and your message, and how you deliver it.
Maybe your book is on hostile takeovers. You can write that with a sense of humor, certainly, or it could be all business. Either could work, depending on who you are. You can write a book on stand-up comedy and it can be purposely not funny. Follow me?
I don’t sit down and say, “I have to be funny today.” I simply have to be me. Funny is my side dish, not the main course that I serve. If you’re a writer for sketch comedy, it would be a good exercise to say I AM FUNNY before you sit to write. (I AM statements are always a good exercise.)
If you are writing on marketing strategies for small businesses, you can insert humor and lightness if that is your personality. If not, don’t go down that path. Whatever your topic, that is the guiding rule.
How do you relate to people? If you are amusing, overly or covertly, that will come through in your writing. If you are analytical, that will come through in your writing. If you are compassionate, that will come through in your writing.
Of course I think humor is important. That does not mean your book has to be humorous. Your presentation of your topic is up to you. Some cancer books are funny as hell. Some car repair books contain clever humor. Any topic can be approached with levity.
However, it does not mean that every topic has to be. I can learn about social media from Joe who is a straight arrow who gives the info, the how-to, the why-to, and bam, I go and do. Love it. I can learn about social media from Jack who is flip and funny and gives me what I need to know. I can love him too.
That’s the point. We love information and books and authors because they connect with us. The only real way to connect is to be genuine.
If you are earnest and sincere and somewhat serious, then write that way. That’s what your readers want – you. If you are ballsy and outrageous, then write that way. That’s what your people expect from you.
Your personality will shine through your written words when you allow yourself to express yourself fully. Don’t fake anything. Don’t try to come off like a Harvard professor if you’re not, and don’t try to come off like a class clown if you’re not. I say it a million times – just be you.
If you approach your topic with a sense of humor, it will radiate through the pages. If this book needs to put a hold on the humor, then be true to that. For those that say to me that they want to make sure the book reflects their sense of humor, I assure them it will. If they write from the heart, the effect is felt.
That’s the only advice you ever need. Write from the heart. Be true to you. Just be you.