Need to write a column, but hate actually waking up, doing any research or giving any thought to your subject? Don’t worry — this guide has you covered! Just be sure to send me the Pulitzer when it inevitably comes.
-Millennials Are Shiftless, Lazy, Basement-Dwelling Trend Pieces Just Waiting To Happen
They are also narcissists who won’t stop tweeting and FaceTime-ing! Not like our generation! Get off my basementlawn!
-Dating Is Different Now Than It Used To Be, I Think.
This is best if you haven’t actually spoken to a person under the age of 47 at any time in the past six years and all your information about the Current Generation is gleaned from New York Times trend pieces and one episode of “Girls” you saw in a hotel.
(Don’t let the fact that this column was first written in 423 B.C. by Aristophanes as part of the agon argument section of The Clouds dissuade you. Just because something’s been done before doesn’t make it any less good. Symphony conductors don’t avoid Beethoven’s 9th on the grounds that their audience might have heard it before!)
-Something That Is Wrong In The World Right Now Is Because Women
This sounds deceptively like the dating column above, but trust me. You can make it your own.
-Maybe Women Can Just Have Some of It
Women love to share items they read! This’ll really get them talking. Who among us can attain that elusive work-life balance? For bonus points, use “Lean In” as a verb in kind of a cutesy, call-out way.
-Will Technology Ruin [Noun]?
This is especially adaptable — fill the blank with anything from “Intimacy” to “Grammar” and you’ve got a real table-thumper. You can put literally any noun in here and you don’t need to conclude anything. Who of us can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not? “Who knows?” you can conclude by saying. “All the same, it’s good to unplug from time to time.” XKCD has a handy chart of this one.
-I Have An Unusually Strong Opinion About [Food Item or Grammar Rule]
Hey, not all of these are bad. All writers have to eat, and who among us is above temptation?
-No One Else Will Say This About/After [Terrible Event That Just Happened] But I’m Going To Tell It Like It Is For Once
True, it generally turns out that the reason no one else has said this thing is that it is horrible and inaccurate, but don’t let that stop you! You’re on deadline!
-[Awful Thing That Happened] Was Because of [Something That Almost Certainly Did Not Cause It]
Everyone suspects that the perpetrator was responsible. But maybe — just maybe — it was actually the victim’s fault! Put that in your pipe and smoke it. This is another classic of the Contrarian Because It’s Inaccurate genre.
-Correlation and Causation Are The Same
Pick any two topics! Imply a causal relationship between them! “Video Games” or “The Media” are especially good candidates for one of the slots.
-[Foreign Policy Event] is Definitely Worse Than Hitler
This is a classic but should be used sparingly. Usually people can get their fill of Godwin’s Law from Internet message boards. Hit it too hard, and it can be mistaken for brilliant performance art.
-[Thing Happening Now That I Know Nothing About] is Just Like [Event I Actually Know About]
Better the less actual resemblance there is between the two things. This keeps your audience guessing and makes them wonder if you know something about the Compromise of 1850 that the history books have been hiding from us. This comes in especially handy during complicated policy battles and overseas entanglements.
-I’m Not Racist/Sexist/Homophobic, But Here is Some Racist/Sexist/Homophobic Advice I Gave My Child
It’s weird that there are enough of these to make a whole genre, but there it is. Not great for your job security, though.
-I Just Saw [Movie] And It Made Me Realize [Something Very Basic]
The simpler the realization, the better. “I just saw ‘Catching Fire’ and it made me realize that feminists are poisoning the water supply” is okay, but “I just saw ‘Gravity’ and it made me realize that the same force keeping my feet on the ground is also a vicious, cold-blooded killer” is better.
-I Had A Really Fancy Lunch With A Celebrity And Here Is What He Or She Said To Me
Yeah, this requires some transcribing, but on the bright side you get to expense lunch!