Creative Gimmicks That Maybe Less People Should Be Copying

Being the writer who writes analytical essays about TV: Remember reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and having your mind blown by the way Chuck Klosterman analyzed The Real World and therefore justified the many hours you wasted watching that show? The profession of turning your pop culture addiction into critical essays suddenly seemed like a possibility for many people. I used to think this was really exciting until I conducted interviews for an entertainment journalism position and received countless essays swearing and rambling about pop culture stuff, labeling themselves as “theories.” It’s cool to keep trying to do this but even if you’re good, the world won’t care as much as they did when old Chuck rolled around.

Being the photographer who takes Polaroids of everyone: This was cool when Andy Warhol did it. Maybe Polaroids are inherently kind of cool. But make like Warhol and have some other gimmicks going.

Becoming a stripper to have something to write about: Diablo Cody was clearly a festering pot of talent, opinions and made-up slang just looking for an interesting hook. And boy did she find it by writing about stripping in Minneapolis. But the fleet of girls who think that exploring sexually-humiliating experiences just for their memoirs is too large for the market that will still be shocked/ interested by that.

Eating only fast food for a month: Remember Supersize Me? Now a lady is trying to eat only Starbucks for a year. Oh my, what a sacrifice to have to survive on Tazo Tea, cheese plates, tiny donuts, peppermint mochas and expensive packs of to-go granola. How much attention will you get? Probably not as much as you think.

Using Gmail chat in your stories: This was revolutionary the first time it happened and a lot of people are doing it in an ok way. But do I want to read a 3-pages long chat about Ke$ha between two magazine journalists? Not really.

Glamorously reflecting about your Adderall abuse: Cat Marnell did that about as well as anyone ever will, and it was a new enough idea that we were shocked at first. This will get less shocking/ interesting with each person that copies her. If you are considering writing a memoir called “The __drug__ Diaries,” it’s been written already.

-Becky Lang is definitely guilty of the first category