Here is my blueprint for ‘Irrelativity’
Aspen, CO Colorado
When you read this column, I bet you think, “Wow, how incredibly spontaneous! Where DOES he come up with that stuff?”
Well, I could try to convince you that it has to do with the elusive Muse, or that its the result of my nose-to-the-page/up-at-dawn work ethic, or just the daily outflow of my unfettered imagination, but the simple truth is this: I sit down for about 15 minutes at the beginning of each year and create a generic “Irrelativity” column blueprint. Then each week I open up that extensive “note to self,” follow the path that I’ve laid out, occasionally filling in little bits of contemporary news here and there to make it seem spontaneous and ta-da! A column!
I know what you’re thinking now ” 15 minutes?! That seems like an awful long time to sit and write.”
Indeed! It’s an excruciatingly long time. That’s why I don’t do it all in one sitting ” I write in 30-second bursts over the course of many days.
This level of productivity is still quite taxing, but I figure the investment is worth it. I mean, I am laying the foundation for my entire creative output for (insert current year here.)
Today, I’m going to give you a peek at this master cheat sheet. Should you ever, God forbid, miss reading “Irrelativity” one week, you can always refer back to this column and get a pretty good idea of what you missed.
Introduction: Remember, the purpose is to suck the reader in. Using the word “suck” is generally a good way to do this. The intro also needs to somehow relate to the entire column that’s to follow. Sometimes this is hard. In the event that its TOO hard, just use the word “suck” again.
Premise: Really, there are only three:
1) I did something stupid, now I’m going to write about it;
2) Somebody else did something stupid, now I’m going to write about it;
3) Write about writing a column.
You’ll want to mix these up as the year progresses. (Example: I did something stupid, now I’m going to write about how I wrote a column about it. Or: I thought that column I wrote last week ” the one about writing about how somebody did something stupid ” was stupid, and now I’m going to write a column about it.)
See? The possibilities are endless!
Actually, no, they aren’t. There are only about six possibilities.
Sorry, wish I could be of more help. Good luck.
Body: Blah, blah, blah. This is the place where you need to crank out at least 600 of the 700 words necessary to continue getting paid for writing this column. Tangents help. Long, meandering ones. Puns are good. Everybody loves puns. Also, remember the benefits of dialogues.
“Why am I saying this?” he asked.
“I think its pretty obvious,” she replied.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Well,” she began.
Go on, he insisted.
“Well,” she said, the way dialogue is formatted on the page makes it look like you’ve written a lot more than you actually have. Short, two-word paragraphs help, too.
“Yep,” he said, finally. “Good point.”
And, don’t forget to go heavy on the ellipses. These make it look like there’s a lot more going on than there really is, like that dot-dot-dot part is where the REALLY funny stuff happens, but instead of actually having to think it up, it all happens in the imagination of the readers. C’mon, they should do some of the work, too … right?
Conclusion: No way of avoiding it ” you’ll need a punch line here.
Quoting a famous philosopher ” and altering the quote slightly so that its funny ” is always good, AND has the added bonus of making people think you’re smart. If you can toy with the words of, say, Descartes, then you’ve clearly read all of her books.
Barring that, use “suck” one final, glorious time.
(At the bottom of each column put a link to your own Web page ” http://www.barrysmith.com ” because by this point people will be dying to know more about you.)
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