How many tickles does it take to make a squid laugh?
In preparation of my upcoming humor writing camp for kids, I wanted to remind everyone (including myself!) to make room for laughter. We writers know that writing is serious business. Behind a 32 page children’s story lies one or two dozen revisions, weeks of research, critique group meetings, conferences, gallons of coffee, and months if not years of persevering and patience while shopping that story to editors and agents. Not to mention the time that we spend convincing others that writing is serious business.
So, it’s easy to become very serious. And then guess what happens? Your writing becomes very serious too. But seriously good children’s books are often very funny. This does not mean that you have to sweat and toil over infusing your manuscript with humor. Just be sure that, through this serious process, you take some time to laugh.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.” -Dr. Seuss
Even if you do not consider yourself an especially funny person, chances are good that you can make a child laugh. Children love to laugh and will do so any chance they can get. They enjoy humor that is clever, slapstick, random, silly, unexpected, and even dark. When I let groups of kids write a story together, they will almost always create a unique and interesting character, immediately kill it off, and then erupt in laughter. And while the teacher in me cringes, the kid inside tells me to lighten up.
So, take a break to read something silly. Do something fun, or go play with a kid. If you take some time out of your work to lighten up and laugh, your writing will lighten up too. And, as you revise, research, critique, network, query, wait, and convince everyone that writing is serious, you’ll also have a lot more fun yourself if you take some time to laugh.