Tip #1 – Making Stone Soup

There will be days when you just don’t feel a bit funny. There will be long hours when you just don’t feel like writing anything at all.


That’s the one thing I claim to have learned as a daily news reporter. Put your pinkies on the keyboard and press in a non-random fashion. Words will emerge on the screen. Viola! You’ve written something. Granted, it’s probably awful. It may stink on ice. But you have something down that will keep your editor, your boss, or—if you’re a freelancer—your creditors from hounding you.

You can and usually will pound your flat prose into something a bit more pointed, and then work that with grit into a sharp piece.

I will admit that I hope it will be otherwise. I still dream of just being possessed to write something pithy, and having the muse grab be and lead me into temptation. It happens just often enough that it makes me feel rotten when I’m not inspired.

But lack of inspiration is the norm. So you may as well get used to it.

I believe that humor is a lot like native American recipe for making stone soup. You start with—spoiler alert—a pot, hot water and a stone. Then you talk your neighbors into pitching in. In this case your neighbors are those parts of your tired brain that have been sitting there, keeping your head from caving in but otherwise doing not-all-that-much.

Suddenly one idea, maybe a slightly rancid bit of bacon of an idea, but something to pitch in, and so into the pot it goes. The heat is still on, of course, and in a moment you get a whiff of a savory smell, and another region of your brain throws in a piece of broccoli. It was probably stored there during your childhood when you were forced to put it in your mouth but refused to swallow it. You wondered where it went, and now you know.

Bit by bit the pot gets full of leftovers, but at least it’s not empty. And truth be told, it’s not looking all that bad.

“I might have something here,” you think. And clearly you do. It may still be unappetizing, but you just keep tapping on the keys here and there, and it gets seasoned up.

Eventually you have a potful of something, and you can season it to be edible.

No, you may not have written War and Peas (soup), or be in line for a Pulitzer, maybe a Pullet-surprise, but then probably not. But you can sit the mess aside to cool, and you’ll find that you can throw out the stone, pick out the bacon, and attack the thing with some A1 sauce, and you’ll get to the point that it will do.

Of course this is not how you hope it will be, but then having to write day in and day out, on deadline, teaches you that even plain peanut butter on white bread is a filling meal when the alternative is going hungry. But toast the bread, add a few sesame seeds and some honey, and maybe a touch of orange marmalade, and wonder of wonder, you’ll have something that the kids ask for by name.

Writing is like that, thank goodness. You can always toss in a bit of steak sauce when things get tough.

Just remember to remove the stone before you serve it up.

#humorhandbook #humor #tips


Author, educator, humorist, entrepreneur, astronaut - one of these isn't true. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *