One of my clients asked where my funny posts come from. I’m flattered people like the writing. I try for amusing and entertaining, and I like to think I’m just naturally funny. But I looked at my data; and I realized it’s really more a matter of effort than talent. Let’s do the numbers. (And in the spirit of ditching your decimals, we’re rounding all numbers here.)

Let’s start with how much writing I do. I post three times a week and my average post is 350 words. So, that’s about 4500 words a month that actually make it on the blog. For each month?s worth of posts, there are probably another five ideas I scope out but that don’t get posted. So, I’m up to 6000 words a month. Of the 14 posts or so that make the final cut, about a third I get right on the first shot. Another third, I redraft about half the article. The final third I wind up rewriting almost completely ? keeping the idea but completely restructuring it. And this is all before the editor gets it. So, let’s say I’m writing 8000-8500 words a month for the blog. If you add in other writing I do for white papers and such, I’m writing about 9000 words a month on newsletter-type topics.

So, how many of them are really funny? Funny enough where people will come back to me months later and joke about it? I?d estimate that while we get a smile pretty often and, hopefully educate regularly, the really funny posts (judging by click-through rates) happen once every three months. So let’s say that’s 350 really funny words out of 27000 written — a little over 1%.

Which means, to my chagrin, I’m not a naturally funny writer. I just try a lot of stuff and sometimes it works. Which brings me back to my thoughts about focus. I can do good work without too much strain. But really remarkable work takes a lot of background effort. So, before I take on a new area, I have to ask myself: can I put enough work into it to get really remarkable results?

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