How To Write A ‘How To’ Article
Pick an utterly unoriginal topic. Possibly a topic involving someone breaking up with you, those are always good. Pick a topic so boring that the only way to save it is by making it a ‘How To’ article.
Write in the second-person plural present tense. Always, always. You always do this, you are always doing it, you are doing it right now. Cover up your lack of inspiration by writing in this way. Now you are typing. You’re typing something so boring that most people would die if they read it normally. “After he dumped me, I sat in bed and ate chocolate.” No one cares. But now you are universalizing it and making it immediate: “Sit in bed. Cry. Eat chocolate.” Wow. You are good, you. You are really really really really good.
Keep writing in this way. Think about how people will think you are deep. You are deep, aren’t you? You are the next Salinger, the next D.F.W. Your heart is a poem, fluttering along in the wind. Your professor in college said that you were a good writer. Your boyfriend pretended to care about your poetry. You have a Tumblr. Friends pretend to care. You are good; you’ve got the -ism.
Your writing is filled with uncontrollable power. Keep typing. There you go, champ. Type on. You’ll show them all, especially that guy who dumped you, except that you isn’t “you” anymore, right? It’s them. You are them. God, how profound.
What a rush! You are the next Salingerfosterwallace. Has anyone ever been this smart before? Your thoughts, they must be shared. What else happened after that guy dumped you? Oh. You re-watched The Notebook. “Sit next to your crumpled kleenex. Re-watch The Notebook.” Holy shit. Maybe you should send this to The Atlantic. No, The New Yorker.
Fail to think. Fail to think about how you’re covering up your lack of ability by writing in this way. Cover up your failure to think by repeating key phrases in your writing, phrases like “fail to think.” Repetition is good. People like repetition. Repetition is good.
Fail to think about how you may actively be hurting writing as a whole in this way. Don’t worry about it. Haters gonna hate. YOLO. Maybe your next article should be about YOLO; there’s an article in that, right? “Type YOLO. Hate yourself for typing YOLO.” Holy shit, you are on fire.
Be vague. Oh, you’re already being vague, because writing in the second-person present tense requires that you be vague; the very style mandates it. Write vaguely affirmative pap. No, you’re not being original, but you’re sharing. Sharing so that people can leave comments like, “this is so my life right now! its like youre inside my head, get out!!” Fail to reflect on how maybe that’s not the purpose of writing, to exactly mirror the thoughts of 18-year-olds. Fail to reflect on how the essential function of writing throughout the ages has been to try to say something new, something that has never been said before.
What else happened after that guy dumped you? You met a new guy. You started dating. You went to brunch. “Meet someone new. Start to tentatively feel again, like a moth emerging from her chrysalis. Start to feel. Learn to laugh again. Have brunch with him at [trendy place that's not too trendy], suddenly find yourself laughing uproariously at a joke he makes as a piece of celery from your Bloody Mary is awkwardly lodged in your mouth. You never knew that you could laugh like that. You thought that you might never laugh ever again. But now you are laughing, reborn, free.”
Good, good, go-ooood. Ignore any warning voices in your head. Press “submit.” You have done it. You have done it. You have done it.
Now, tear it up and start again.
image – Monkey-typing
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Each week, your questions give us hope that love is alive and well somewhere in the world! Keep on doing what y’all do — falling for people at the gym, eating your vegetables, scheming to move out of the Friendzone (ugh, the Friendzone!)