Jo Anne Haywood has many passions – she has paid her dues in the media, won a stand up comedy competition and had extensive experience in all things communication.

Jo Anne has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to writing and is passionate about connecting to people through her stories.

This month Jo Anne is running weekend writing retreats to share her knowledge with fellow writers, empowering them to express themselves.

Jo Anne recently shared with us some of her insights into writing and stand- up Comedy.


What prompted you to start running weekend writing retreats?


I taught 150 people creative writing over a month in the Sunshine Coast Libraries

from November 7 to December 7. I haven’t seen that much enthusiasm to write in a while.

It seemed a logical progression to run a weekend retreat to kick start writing projects in the new year,

at a time when nothing much is happening. After writing professionally for 30 years and another 10 years

of keeping a journal, it’s also time for me to give something back to the community.


How did you become involved in stand-up comedy?


I became involved in Stand-up comedy as divorce therapy. My marriage

ended unexpectedly and I needed to boost my self-confidence and laughter was great medicine.


What aspects of your life and experiences have inspired you to write the most?


In regards to comedy writing, parenting and raising my kids, especially my hearing-impaired

daughter. But I’ve also experienced some quirky experiences with my son as well. A Chinese

restaurant owner tried to buy him off me when he was a baby because he was so cute.

When it comes to other writing, I am inspired by nature, the environment and interesting people

I have met in my career, plus of course Coffee. I am working on a selection of short stories on

Coffee with my Caboolture writers group.


How do you know if the content you are writing will be well received?

I test out comedy writing on a live audience. If they like it and laugh heartily I keep it.

If they don’t even smile I drop it. Best way to hone your skills and your material.

With regards to the Coffee stories, we workshop them in our monthly meetings.


What is the funniest story you have ever told?

My funniest jokes are about Fat Kid t-shirts – making fun of myself being a chubby kid

basically, and deciding whether to get my son circumcised

when he was a baby – I am guaranteed four laughs for both of them.

I have a whole routine about my hearing impaired daughter that gets lots of laughs.

Especially teaching her to drive…hilarious.


What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers and/or comedians?


Have the courage to give creative and comedic writing a go. It’s worth the effort. So many of the 150 writers

I taught recently, preceded reading out their piece with “Oh I know this is complete rubbish but….”

And they were magical stories, pearls of wisdom, insights into life etc.

So give yourself permission to write rubbish and you may find that your trash is someone else’s treasure!