Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Writing With Humor

I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy!

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you
find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
                                                                                                          -Bill Cosby

Ah, joy! How we long for it in our lives and to infuse it into our writing. Joy invigorates. It bubbles up from deep inside and brings hope. “What Joy” is a wonderful worship song I love. It touches my heart because I long so desperately to give hope to my readers and to lift their spirits with my writings.

But how can we offer joy? Do we drum it up, or does it come naturally?

Living on the light side comes easily to some; others have to work hard to be funny. (Sounds funny, doesn’t it . . . working hard to be funny?) I’m one of those who came into the world with an overactive funny bone. Oh, it occasionally gives me trouble. Life’s woes kick in and my funny bone gets arthritic and locks up. Whenever that happens, I trip myself on purpose just to loosen it back up again. (Hey, a girl can go only so long without laughter!)

From the time I was a little girl, I was the happy-go-lucky sort. Giggly. Goofy. My mom always called me a ham because of my overly dramatic style. Not that I minded. Drama was my thing. And performing comedy on the stage made me happiest.

Then I grew up . . . and life happened. Unfortunately, some of the events of my grown-up life weren’t funny. In fact, they were pretty tragic. Still, through my faith and my innate desire to keep on keepin’ on, I managed to keep my smile intact much of the time.

Lighten Up!

Let humor lead the way! Be known as an easygoing person. In my own life, I find that being funny on the page is easier when I’m truly walking through life with a joyous attitude. It’s not always easy (and life often intervenes, threatening to remove any hint of humor), but for those who live a life of faith, it is possible. “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:13 NIV).

Have you ever been so disappointed, so broken down that you felt you couldn’t go on? Don’t despair! Even in the hardest of times, it’s possible to have a glad heart. The body reacts to the spirit, so if you want to keep on keepin’ on, you’d better do a heart check! No doubt, the cheerful expression on your face is sure to make others ask, “What’s her secret?”

Over the next several months I’m going to give you tips to infuse your life (and your writings) with humor. We’ll talk about where joy comes from and examine the role joy plays in our books.

This month we’re going back to basics, starting with what will probably be the most obvious, but often the most overlooked:

TIP ONE: Spend Time in God’s Presence

Joy in His Presence: “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place” (1 Chron. 16:27 NIV ).

If you’re truly wondering where to begin this joy journey, start here, in God’s presence. After all, you can’t offer your readers what you yourself don’t have. So run after joy! Head straight into God’s arms to find it for yourself, then spread the love.

How do I go about it?

In Old Testament days only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies to spend intimate time with God; however, when Jesus

died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two! We now have free access to the Holy of Holies, and Jesus bids us enter . . . often! He longs to spend time with us in that place. And, oh, what joy when we enter in! Draw near to the Lord. Allow His Spirit to fill you daily. Let Him whisper sweet nothings in your ear and woo you with His love. The Spirit of God is your omforter, your friend. He fills you to overflowing. Watch the joy flow!

When we spend time with God, it’s like having an infusion. We’re hooked up to the “joy juice” as it were—His holy, God-breathed, invigorating life source. Nothing else can take the place of this. No vitamins are strong enough, no television show funny enough, no friends kind enough. Only in God’s presence can we get what we truly need. When we spend time with Him, he replaces our hurts, our pains, our hopelessness with supernatural joy. It’s inexplicable!

Perhaps you’re familiar with the old hymn “Joy Unspeakable.” The words still resonate with me today!

We have found the Christ who's all in all;
He is everything to us;
O how blest upon His name to call,
How divine, how glorious!

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Full of glory, full of glory;
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
And the half has never yet been told!

Isn’t this what we long to share with our readers? It’s not enough to be funny. It’s not enough to say, “Come and read my book. It’ll make you laugh out loud!” What we truly long to do is to touch the reader in a deep place and offer a life-giving joy that will sustain beyond whatever he/she is going through. And the journey begins as we spend time with Him in the joy-filled place!

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Psalm 5:11 (NIV)