Hindered by Humor

(Originally published June 4, 2008).

My second book, Fur Ball Fever, is progressing with all the speed of a garden slug on Valium. Sad to say, I’m having a hard time forcing out the first draft.

How, you ask, can humor possibly be the culprit for causing writer’s block?

After conducting an in-depth problem analysis for 1.5 years (I was a consultant in my previous life), I finally determined that my main problem is that Fur Ball Fever is a comic romantic suspense. By definition, this sucker is supposed to be funny. If not knee-slapping, it should at least bring a smile to the reader’s face.

Here’s the thing. I find humor difficult to write. Let me re-phrase that. I find sparkling humor difficult to write. On any given day, it is much easier for me to, say, volunteer for root canal surgery or scrub down the toilet with a toothbrush than to crank out ten pages of scintillating prose.

Humor doesn’t pour from my fevered imagination in a fountain of quips, banter and witticisms (well, sometimes it does, but not as often as I would like). Those funny lines are warm and snug and comfy exactly where they are — trapped in the darkest recesses of my brain, clinging to the cortex or frontal lobe or wherever it is that humor resides in the cerebrum. My poor, overtaxed brain excavates those elusive comic aspects through a gruelling process of trial and error. My brand of humour doesn’t spring to the page until my 3rd or 4th (or even 10th) pass through the scene. The first draft is inevitably flat, boring, uses identical sentence constructs, and is embarrassingly un-funny to the point where I doubt my own ability to write humor.

Hopefully, now that I understand the problem, I can settle down now and finish my first draft without worrying about inserting amusing and witty dialogue or outrageous, laugh-out-loud situations.

I hereby give myself permission to be un-funny and boring — at least for the first draft.

I would love to hear other people’s experiences with writing humor.