Green eggs and ham, the cat in the hat, etc. – many of us grew up reading these words, and many of us learned to love reading because of the genius of one man: Dr. Seuss. Born Theodore Seuss Geisel, the American cartoonist and writer is definitely one of the most loved children’s book writers today. Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904, and in his lifetime, he published 44 children’s books which are all full of wonderfully imaginative characters. Add to these his uniquely creative writing style, and you will not be surprised at how well-loved this writer has become.
Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and it is but fitting for us to celebrate the day he was born. What better way to honor the man than to learn from him?
See the fun in what you do, and share that fun with your readers.
Pick up any – and I mean any – of Dr. Seuss’s books, and you will see how much fun the author had when he was writing the book. There is no denying it – Dr. Seuss enjoyed what he was doing, and that enjoyment shone through in his work.
Maybe you’re thinking along the lines of “How can I have fun when I have to write copy about real estate in a hundred different ways?” While it is true that not all the jobs that we get are inherently fun, our attitude towards the job can make a world of difference. Perspective is everything.1
It’s okay to be different.
Dr. Seuss is as different as different gets. Where did his difference get him? A long, long way. I have to add this, though: being different is not an always excuse to use incorrect grammar.
Exaggerate if you have to!
Exaggeration does wonders if used properly. Anyone who has read at least one Dr. Seuss book can see that. Dr. Seuss himself once said:
I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it’s fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. It’s very flattering, that laugh, and at the same time it gives pleasure to the audience and accomplishes more than writing very serious things. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that’s an exaggeration. It isn’t.
(Interview in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, 1976)
Keep it short.
A wise man once said, say a lot in a few words. According to Dr. Seuss (and this may very well be one of my favorite quotes):
It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.
So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.
That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.
FWJ readers, what are your “Seussical” experiences?2
- I have to admit that I have had more than one instance of NOT having fun when writing, though. [↩]
- NOTE: Next week, we shall go back to talking about non-errors in the English language. [↩]