Donna Cavanagh is a humor entrepreneur and founder of HumorOutcasts.com and HumorOutcasts Press/Shorehouse, a publishing brand which this year became a division of UR Business Network. Cavanagh began her business as a small venture to offer writers a forum to showcase their work in a world that offered few avenues for humor. Ironically, HumorOutcasts.com quickly became a comedy conglomerate featuring the creative talents of more than 90 aspiring and accomplished writers, filmmakers, illustrators and comics. Today HumorOutcasts.com is the “go to” site for eclectic comedy and humor. From a “G” to a “just might make you blush” rating, there’s something for everyone. As a writer herself, Cavanagh can’t stop the humor. A veteran journalist who detoured into humor writing, her books and stories have earned her an international audience and national acclaim. Cavanagh is a faculty member of the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. A USA Books Contest finalist (Life On The Off Ramp), Cavanagh’s latest book, A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life, was penned with her dogs, which as you might imagine was no small feat (or should we say “paws”?). Host of BlogTalk’s HumorOutcasts Radio, she is also a publisher at UR Business Network and host of their show “Write Out Loud”.
Donna will be teaching a workshop called “Blogs, Books, and Beyond” in which she will discuss the elements of writing humor from vocabulary and cadence to letting go of some of the strict grammatical musts that exist in other genres. Donna will discuss how to get humor out there and build an audience either through individual blogs or blogs that highlight many writers to what it means to be a part of a writing community. She will talk about what comes after a blog, options for publishing for humor writers and promotion, and will also touch base on the bias that humor/comedy writers sometimes face as well.
We asked Donna to share her thoughts on the writing community in general and the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference in particular. See what she has to say after the break!
PWC: How has your personal writing community influenced and assisted you?
DC: The writers on my site HumorOutcasts.com are so supportive not only for me but for each other. The idea that we can bounce ideas off each other or offer kind and constructive criticism or help each other network has made a world of difference for all of us.
PWC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
DC: Inspiration has in the past and still comes from family and friends. However, in humor, one also has to look to the environment outside the “Inner Circle”. I do reach for headlines as well for column ideas.
PWC: How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
DC: Writing is a solitary profession and in today’s digital world, our relationships tend to be more from social media and email and less from personal interaction. To be able to speak to fellow writers face-to-face and interact with them not only staves off isolation but stirs the creative juices as well.
PWC: What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard?
DC: Make a schedule and keep to it. Figure out what time of the day you are more productive and set those hours aside for writing. If you work from home, do not give in and do housework or errands during the time you scheduled for writing. That time should be sacred. Obviously, everyday life happens and you might have to re-arrange your schedule once in a while but as a general rule, follow a schedule.
PWC: How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
DC: You need to set boundaries. Not only do you need to respect those boundaries but your family and friends have to as well. You wouldn’t march into a friend’s office at 10 AM and demand they leave work to chat with you. As you respect their work place, they must respect yours. Writing is like any other profession. It can’t be 24 hours or you will burn out. And if you burn out, then you also hurt the personal relationships. You don’t have to be overscheduled, but you have to realize that life is complicated and you have to be flexible at times.
PWC: When did you first realize you were a writer?
DC: I can’t really remember. I remember that a teacher in grammar school liked a humor piece I wrote and sent it in to a contest, and I thought that was really cool. So somewhere between grammar school and life, I knew I would always have to write.
PWC: What are you most looking forward to at the 2014 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference
DC: I am looking to meeting writers. I love to meet and interact and talk to writers. To me they are the most fascinating people in the world!
Ready to meet Donna and find out about the wonderful, wacky world of blog posts, podcasts, and writing and laughing out loud? Sign up to the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference HERE!