to be a craft for the introverted intellectuals. It was an outlet for those
with brilliant ideas and terrible social skills to share with the world their
thought provoking perspectives on everything from the theories of the universe
to mundane observations of the everyday. Publishing houses sifted through these
works to find the gems, the best of the best, and these would then be
disseminated to masses that were thirsty for newness and novelty.
Thanks to the
digital age, however, anyone can publish whatever his or her heart desires.
Unfortunately, while everyone is now a ‘writer,’ it seems that nothing is
really being said. Blogs abound with useless musings by self-proclaimed
‘creative’ individuals that are just dying to be heard— err, reblogged. And so,
we inquisitive minds who yearn to feel some kind of intellectual stimulation will
listen to their rambling posts, attempting to gain the wisdom they claim to be
imparting. We listen to their ironic lamentations about the negative impact of
technology on the creative process. We listen to their ‘reports’ and to their
‘anecdotes,’ written in all their clichéd glory. We listen hard and we listen
well, and, at the end of it all, we feel nothing. This is an emptiness only
known when one has read countless blogs and page after page of articles on
Thought Catalog, hoping to be enlightened—or at least entertained—and instead
is left only with the knowledge of how one man almost went on a Tinder date. This is the emptiness of the Internet
age of writing.
There are of
course, the occasional prized pieces, which are everything we could have hoped
for in an essay we didn’t know we needed
to read. They draw us in with both their flirtatious syntax and captivating
subject matter. They give us hope when they use proper grammar and cite sources
to back their claims. They remind us of what it feels like to be wooed by a writer;
what it’s like to want to share new thoughts with friends and discuss the
implications of such interesting points of view. We feel the overwhelming urge
to email the author, and sometimes we get as far as composing salutations
before we realize we don’t really have much to say to him or her. We just want
to be friends, to absorb some of their marvelous spirit and writing abilities.
across such fantastic articles is often an accident, a happy coincidence that
is difficult to repeat. With each random success, we are given false hope that
our search methods are actually fruitful. We become conditioned by these chance
occurrences to believe that our Google searches or a friend’s recommendation
via Facebook can deliver us the stimulation we crave. The effect of these
inconsistent rewards is the unsettling anticipation that the next click could reveal
the essay that will change our lives forever, and so we continue to click in
our blind search for brilliance.
The Effort Is There (Or is it?)
futile attempts at finding something decent to read, I have come across
hundreds of disappointing articles, essays, and anecdotes. I’m assuming there
must be a Millennial Writer’s Cult to which the authors of these
pieces belong (one that’s very inclusive, I’m sure), and which requires each of
its members to adhere to the following rules:
self-deprecating humor and constantly reference your own ‘weirdness’ (but not
your actual weirdness, only the stuff that could possibly be relatable,
like singing in the shower).
advantage of any and all opportunities for puns, and follow such word plays
with the phrase “pun not intended,” even though it most certainly was intended.
3. Never be
sure of yourself. Use the phrases “I think” and “I guess” almost as frequently
as the words “whatever” or “amiright?”
your entire essay as a list. Begin the title with “25 Reasons You Should…”
grammar rules. If it looks correct to you, it’s good enough.
publish the first draft.
Also included with membership is a
catalog of “completely original topic ideas that you will definitely contribute
novel insight to.” Some of the most popular include:
about millennials’ social and/or dating skills
2. Body image
3. Feminism in
the 21st century
4. Body image and
feminism in the 21st century
annoying your Facebook friends are
6. How terrible
your eating habits are, and how little you care
7. Why being
single is THE BEST
8. Why being
in a couple is THE BEST
9. Advice on
how you should feel ‘in your 20’s’ (only applicable if you, as the author, are
still in your 20’s)
As a ‘Writer’ Myself
I can already
hear aspiring writers across the blogosphere scoffing at this piece, calling it
an ironically rambling essay itself. And I am aware that to some degree, it
probably is. But, by writing this piece, I am not claiming to have defeated the
monster of a task that is creating good content. However, I do believe in my
subject and so I feel I am writing with purpose.
The process of
spontaneously generating new material, breaking it down, and putting it in
focus is the most difficult part of the writing method—and all of that usually
takes place before the pen even hits the paper. Writing a piece that you’re
proud of however, should take time, energy, and hard work. After all, isn’t
that where the joy comes from?
I’ll conclude with this timeless piece
of advice that we’ve all surely heard before:
“If you don’t
have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
comic inspired this essay: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things
You can’t be a
writer—you either are one or you aren’t. It isn’t some career decision with a
cut-and-dry path to success like being a lawyer or a doctor. There’s no exam
you take that officially qualifies you to have a job in the field. No fancy
degrees in writing can be earned and hung on the wall as signifiers of your
“Oh, you went to Harvard? How nice for you. Now prove to me
that you know anything. Do you have a blog? Well, that doesn’t make you special.
Wait, don’t blog about me.”
As I’ve begun the hunt for internships, I’ve noticed that
recruiters don’t really care about anything except writing samples. Now, this
is unfortunate for me because I don’t really have “writing samples.”
But I promise, editors, I’m a decent writer. Won’t you just
take my well-constructed, grammatically correct plea as evidence?
I’m beginning to think that I may have wasted my first two
years in college with menial internships where I didn’t get to really explore
my true passion. I regret to think that I took the easy way out.