Like other creative pursuits, writing a few good jokes starts with writing a bunch of bad jokes. Dikkers lays out a few exercises for generating ideas.
The first exercise is the Morning Pages: Write for a half hour
every day, without stopping, no matter what you’re writing—and no matter how bad you think it is.
I’ve tried Morning Pages in the past in many forms. I tried 750words.com, doing it longhand the prescribed way, and just typing freely.
Dikkers suggests looking back and reading old morning pages to see if any ideas are still good. This goes against the prescribed method, which would have you burn the pages before re-reading them. The point being that you’ll be deeply honest in the pages knowing nobody will read them—even yourself.
If the goal is to write jokes, you should be honest while actively thinking about what’s amusing in all these things.
I’m writing this first draft on a bus right now. Everyone looks the same. Five people in dark down jackets looking at their phones. What’s amusing about this? What would people be doing fifty years ago? What would an alien think of this? How can I exaggerate this completely?
It reminds me of Infinite Jest in how I find myself truly staring at a phone for an hour at a time, stuck on my couch. Just scrolling and reading news mindlessly.
The only funny thing right now is probably how hard you might be rolling your eyes because I just referenced something in Infinite Jest.
I’ll keep reading so I can learn how to take ideas from the walls of text that Morning Pages generate.
Something about how walls in Magic: The Gathering are the most boring cards. I haven’t seen walls this boring since I played Magic! Okay that’s a bad one. The book never says it’s easy.