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How to Turn Embarrassment Into Extra Cash
by Dawn Colclasure

Let’s pretend for a minute that that just didn’t happen. You didn’t accidentally spill coffee on your boss. You didn’t just trip over your own feet walking down the aisle. Your child didn’t just scream an obscene word in the grocery store. No. That didn’t happen. None of it. Let’s forget all about those moments that made your face turn red. Or, we can try something better: Sell an article about it.

Yes, you read that right. But before you run for cover, take heart. Writing about your embarrassing moments doesn’t mean you must bare your soul or be forced to change your name. You don’t have to give all the details, delve into what you were (or weren’t) thinking about or wish it all away. The trick is to watch for the right kind of embarrassing moments that can spark the right kind of article, and write the shame away.

The following are some tips on how you can turn embarrassing moments into articles that sell:

Pick and choose. You don’t have to write about how you accidentally dropped a birthday cake at a party, but why not write about that hilarious time you tried again and again to insert a letter into a mailbox only after it kept flying right back out? Look for the moments that are actually funny and not so much embarrassing. Find the funny in those moments and incite a chuckle from readers who think it’s funny, too. As embarrassing as some moments may be, some of them are downright funny, and funny is always something that sells.

Look at it another way. Instead of gaping over when you accidentally sent an email that shared the juicy details of your date last night to the whole office, when you meant to send it to a friend, consider what you could take away from the situation. Could that be an article on “Work Email Dos and Don’ts”? An article about how to overcome an email goof? It’s times like this when we need to step aside and see what we have learned from this disgrace. When I made an embarrassing mistake working with writers on a book project, I took it as a lesson learned and sold an article about it.

Look for a commonality. Okay, so your pants were yanked down as a prank – right in front of the school assembly. Harkens back to the movie Grease. In fact, what a coincidence that the song “Blue Moon” was playing. Hm, why not write about this interesting coincidence? If you embarrassing moment is similar to something in pop culture or if the same exact thing happened to someone you know, only their story had a twist, that would be something worth reading about. Why not write it all up?

Owe up to it. It’s not the end of the world that you accidentally broke a table when you slammed your fist onto it. After all, that let you know that maybe you tend to show your anger in a negative way. In fact, there are lots of negative ways people express anger, and some of those habits could lead to something worse. Work with what just happened and throw around the possibilities of what would happen if it was magnified times ten. Do some research, talk with some friends and see how this one moment connects to something bigger. That right there is an article you could write.

Save it for later. An embarrassing moment that is worth writing about should be written about. So, write it down, even if you can’t figure out how to use it for an article or story. Save this for a rainy day. Who knows? You may come up with an idea for something to use it for later – or you might find a home for that very incident. I once had a slip of the tongue and asked my sister “are you cereal?” when I meant “serious” after she told me a shocking story. We had a good laugh over the slip and it’s filed away for possible use in a future story.

In order to make sure these tips will help you turn your embarrassing moments into writing that sells, remember that the article or story you come up with must be something editors could actually use. Look for something that is hilariously funny; you could sell it as an anecdote. For the informative article, make sure it’s a relevant topic that hasn’t been done to death everywhere else. Keep your information and ideas as fresh as possible. Editors don’t want old, tired news and ideas. They want something they haven’t seen before.

Additionally, consider how you could take one embarrassing incident and recycle that moment in your writing. The mailbox incident is a perfect example of how you could recycle this idea. It could be turned into a funny anecdote, an article warning readers about predators hiding in mailboxes, another article about funny stories from postal workers or maybe another article about “mailbox karma.” Play around with this and see what kind of extra ideas for articles to write you can come up with. Change the slant, look for different markets, and interview people who have had other bizarre mailbox incidents happen to them.

The next time embarrassment strikes and you’d rather crawl into a hole to hide away from the world, go to your desk instead and start writing. Make it a habit to objectively look at an embarrassing moment and think about how you can turn it into the kind of writing that will sell.

Some markets open to anecdotes, fillers and humorous submissions include:

MAD Magazine
Pays up to $500 on accepted submissions.

The Funny Times
Pays $25-40 for cartoons and $60 for stories

The Saturday Evening Post
Pays $25 for “Post Scripts”

MomSense Magazine
Pays $0.10/$0.15 per word for funny stories and cute quotes from kids.

A River & Sound Review
Pays $50 for humor articles

© Copyright 2010, Dawn Colclasure

Dawn Colclasure continues to write about discrimination against the deaf in her articles for the newspaper SIGNews ( http://www.signews.org). She has also written various articles about writing for Writing-World, Worldwide Freelance Writer, Write From Home and Absolute Write. She's had work published in magazines such as Skyline Literary Magazine, Mothering and SUCCEED. Visit her on the Web at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com.

Other articles by Dawn Colclasure :

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