Get Out of the “Serious Writer” Trap with 10 Ways to Laugh

Filed in When Writing Is Hard by on July 28, 2015 • views: 2313

Laugh Girls 2My mom has a great sense of humor. She can find a laugh in just about every situation.

Rarely do I spend a day with her, or even have a conversation with her, that she doesn’t get me laughing about one thing or another.

What a blessing that is. I wish I could be more like that, but I’m a writer, and like many writers, I tend to take things too seriously most of the time.

Finding a way to laugh at life is important for everyone, but I think writers, especially, need humor to lighten the load. We have a difficult journey to travel, and often suffer from self-doubt, battle difficult choices (self-publish or traditionally publish?), struggle to market ourselves, and go through a number of other ups and downs that can lead to an overall gloomy mood.

We also tend to take ourselves and our work really seriously—probably the main reason that we, perhaps even more than other professionals, need to be sure we’re experiencing some laughter on a regular basis.

Likely you have someone in your life that makes you laugh. In addition to spending more time with that person, you can also try the 10 resources listed below to get more laughter into your day. It will make you feel better, and it’s good for your health, as well.

Laughter is Good for Your Health

A recent 2014 study found that after participants watched 20 minutes of funny videos, they had lower levels of the stress hormone “cortisol” in their systems.

Interestingly, they also performed nearly 44 percent better on memory tests than they had before watching the videos, compared with a 20 percent improvement in a comparative group that simply sat quietly during the break.

That’s not all. Sitting at the computer all day can really cause you to pack on the pounds. Want an easy way to burn a few calories? Spend about 10-15 minutes laughing. A study out of Vanderbilt University found that people could burn 10-40 calories in that time—which could translate into about four pounds a year.

Another study found that laughter can help protect you from our biggest killer today: heart disease. Cardiologists from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people the same age without heart disease.

In other words, people with heart disease found it harder to laugh at everyday life situations.

“The ability to laugh—either naturally or as learned behavior—may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer,” said Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the center.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Stieg Larsson, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Alex Haley, Orson Welles, Ayn Rand, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Ludlum, and many more famous authors died of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

It’s a leading cause of death, so it’s not really surprising, but reading that list of names is sobering—maybe all authors need to laugh a bit more for their own good?

10 Things to Get You Laughing

My guess is you don’t laugh as often as you’d like, or as often as you should for your own good health. Here are some resources that may help you get enjoy a few more giggles today.

  1. Womens HumorWomen’s Humor: This anthology looks at the genre of women’s humor and illuminates the ways in which women’s humor differs from men’s. The book contains essays, short stories, dramas, and poems, on a range of subjects, from a variety of women including Anita Loos, Mae West, Moms Mabley, Erma Bombeck, Lily Tomlin, Elayne Boosler, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott and Dorothy Parker. Find it here.
  2. World Without WritersA World Without Writers: What would some of our most iconic movies be like without stellar screenwriters? This video re-imagines greats like Gone with the Wind and Jaws without those memorable lines we all quote. Find it here.
  3. Things You Should Never Say to a Writer: There are several of these lists online and many of them are laugh-out-loud funny. Try: BuzzFeed, TerribleMinds, and Bustle.
  4. Monty Python: These guys did a funny scene involving Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw in Flying Circus. (Find it here.) If you’re a Monty Python fan, find the top 20 sketches here. Finally, they have a sketch about movie writers here.
  5. Funny Cat Videos: Honestly, is there anything funnier? Writers love ‘em. Here’s a great collection: Funny Cats Compilation.
  6. Mr. BeanBean Taking an Exam: Remember those essay tests? Most writers were good at them, but poor Mr. Bean doesn’t know the answers, so he resorts to cheating. Hilarious! Find it here.
  7. Epic Rap Battles: What would Stephen King have said to Edgar Allan Poe had the two met? “Epic Rap Battles” takes on that what if with this clever rap between the two horror writers. Whom do you think is better? Find it here.
  8. Neil Gaiman’s Tweets: If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan (and even if you’re not), you may get a kick out of his tweets on a regular basis. BuzzFeed has a collection of the 19 Funniest Neil Gaiman Tweets of All Time for a good chuckle.
  9. Tim ConwayTim Conway: If you’re a fan of the greats in comedy, you’ll love this interview with Tim Conway. He’s talking about his book, What’s So Funny, and of course, he’s funny in the process. Find it here.
  10. Seuss: I saved the best for last. I’ll bet you’ve never heard Dr. Seuss read in quite this way! I dare you to watch without laughing. Here’s presenting Fox in Socks.

Please share any links to things that may make a writer laugh!

Bains GS, et al., “The effect of humor on short-term memory in older adults: a new component for whole-person wellness,” Adv Mind Body Med., Spring 2014; 28(2):16-24,

Clinton Colmenares, “No joke: Study finds laughter can burn calories,” Reporter: Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Weekly Newspaper, June 10, 2005,

Michelle Murray, “Laughter is the Best Medicine for Your Heart,” University of Maryland Medical Center, July 14, 2009,

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Comments (9)

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  1. Gloria says:

    Hi Colleen. Great post. I’m researching lots of laughter stuff at the moment as I’ll be talking about the importance of fun & humour at my next well-being workshop. Love it 💙💙 Bet you enjoyed writing this 😉

    • Admin says:

      Ooo, sounds great Gloria. So important to well being! Ha ha. Yeah, this was a fun one! :O)

  2. Chere Hagopian says:

    The Buzzfeed list of things never to say to a writer is HILARIOUS! Can’t wait to watch the Epic Rap Battles.

  3. I love this! Bookmarking for later. Writers are so hard on ourselves, sometimes we really need a laugh.

  4. Love this post. I think I’m going to order the Women’s Humor book, too! Thanks much for this. 🙂

  5. Now that you’ve hooked me on the Epic Rap Battles of History (thanks for that!) I’ll share the one that has tickled me all week, because it is so true:

    The 14 Stages Of Writing A Book

    See yourself in any of these?

  6. Watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 was always good for a laugh! And Mark Twain is a good standby….

    Thanks for posting that list. I’m going to check some of your suggestions out.