… and realize where you’ve been keeping your highlighter.
I was honored when Aaron over at The Confusing Middle asked me to write a guest post for him while he’s on vacay. Here it is! (Censored, because apparently “fuck” isn’t everyone’s favorite word).
Hey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Alex. I asked her the question, what is one experience that has shaped the person you […]
As I write this, I have writer’s block. I thought a good way to get over it would be to write a piece about how to get over it. Not sure that’s logical, but I figured it’s enough of a cyclical tactic that it’s bound to work eventually. So, that said, in real time, here’s how to get over writer’s block.
Put pen to paper
I hate to say it, but forcing yourself to do it is the only way you’ll get any sort of momentum. I’m pretty sure Nike’s slogan was a product of writer’s block. Even if what you write is complete shit, still make yourself start there. In my experience, it’s not as easy as just sitting down and forcing yourself to write one time and then you’re off to the races—you may have to do this several times until you start feeling like you’re making any progress and that it won’t always be such a battle. So start slow—maybe just jot down a few words today. Tomorrow, a sentence. Wednesday, a paragraph. Etc. And that way, too, if and when you fail, it will at least be a slow burn instead of a miraculous flame-out. #welikeourfailurelikewelikeourgeneralexistence #unnoticed
Stop being a perfectionist
I think part of writer’s block is fear that your product will be terrible. But if you just accept that it will be terrible, or at least less than perfect, you’ll free yourself of pressure to meet a certain standard, and then can write with abandon. No one’s perfect—not even people who claim to be. So don’t let your misguided aspirations/delusions of perfection stop you from expressing yourself—the Catholic church(/actually really any religion) sure doesn’t!
Cry about it
Yes, your creative dry spell is majorly heart-wrenching. So just let it out. Will you ever be able to write again? It’s impossible to say. Have you lost your vision forever? Probably. Are you less insightful, witty, and original than you thought? 100%. You have every reason to weep. And while you should probably just end it all now because clearly you’re going nowhere, also consider getting over it. #buildthatbridge #thenburnit #afteryougetoverit #becauseifyouburnitbeforeyougetoverityouwon’tbeabletogetoverit #butyou’reallclearafteryougetoverit #burnbabyburn #bernbabybern #BernieSanders2016 #seewhatIdidthere
Realize that writer’s block is mostly composed of your laziness
Sure, it’s more glamorous to say that our muse has left us, but really, we’re mainly just too lazy to do the hard work that is writing. I don’t think anyone knows why anyone writes, because it’s really just hard. Overall, the process is agonizing. So it makes sense that sometimes we feel like watching 9 hours of shitty reality TV back-to-back instead. We don’t need to term that “writer’s block”—we can just be honest with ourselves. And also not feel ashamed for it—everyone needs and wants breaks. To be allowed, that instinct doesn’t have to be manipulated into some version of martyrdom.
Focus on what you’d enjoy writing about
And do that. Maybe you’re having writer’s block on a subject that you don’t particularly care about. Makes sense. So if you can switch to something you give 2 shits about (at least—aim for 2-4 shits given), your block may dissolve. I know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re writing on assignment. But try to find creative ways to make whatever you’re writing about more appealing to you so that the process of writing about it will be less painful. One way to accomplish this is to look at every piece of writing as a learning opportunity; everything you write requires some knowledge on your part, and that may mean you have to do some learning before you can write with authority. And learning new things is great—mainly because then when someone says something ignorant, you can shut them the fuck down with complete peace of mind. #writingisyourweapon
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/worst-get-writers-block/
For those of you in need of a lesson in the art of customer service warfare, here’s how you write an effective complaint.
First, actually write one
People underestimate the power of the written word. When it’s in the form of a complaint. That will then be passed on to upper management. And could affect bonuses, Yelp stars, and/or Better Business Bureau ratings. Don’t be the apathetic asshole that is everyone in our society—the person who is so not content with how things go, but is too lazy to do anything about it. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Towards annihilating the corporation or customer service rep who hath wronged you.
Next, take your time
Listen, nobody wants to spend their precious free time writing a letter of complaint for something that never should’ve happened in the first place. Which is why you should write it when you’re on the clock and getting paid by your employer to do so. And don’t rush through it—you have to be strategic in your battle tactics, which requires attention to detail, thoroughness, and precise reasoning. Plus, the longer the complaint, the more serious they’ll take you—if you write a 5-page, single-spaced letter, they’re going to know you’re not fucking around.
Do your research
To further bulletproof your arguments. Look up what laws the company you’re complaining to might be breaking, which of their own policies they may be violating, what they promised you vs. what they actually delivered, etc. As soon as you start annotating your written complaint, that smirk will be wiped right the fuck off that P.O.S. Wells Fargo teller’s smug, frankly rotund, face.
Put it on letterhead
Don’t have any? Make one up. This makes it look more official. It honestly doesn’t matter what the letterhead says, as long as it’s there. You could write:
Wells Fargo Can Fall Off a Bridge, Inc.
123 Blow Me Lane.
Suckadick, FU 66666-6666
and it wouldn’t matter—it’s still more professional than the way you’ve been treated as a customer.
Use big words
The goal is to intimidate the idiots you’re complaining about/to. And nothing says ‘I’m going to make you shit your pants’ more than words like “apostasy,” “reprobate,” and “demeritorious.”
Send it via certified mail
By requesting a return receipt, you’re saying, “I’m watching you, motherfuckers. I will track the shit out of my letter. Try not responding. Just try—I dare you.”
If a company can ignore you, they will. But the only way they can is if you let them. Follow up via all communication methods possible—phone, email, snail mail, smoke signal, showing up at their doorstep. If none of that works, stage a sit-in on the front lawn of their office. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and your local city & state governments. If that doesn’t work, take it federal. What bad customer service reps fail to understand is that we will take them to court, even if it ends up costing us more money, as a matter of principle—something they clearly know nothing about.
Don’t just send the company that sucks a letter or email—post your condemnation of them all over the Internet. Businesses hate nothing more than having their public reputation smeared. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp—use these resources as they were meant to be used—to destroy peoples’ lives.
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/complain-things-like-true-boss/
Because if I only knew then what I know now…
Dear High School Alex,
You really care too much. About what people think of you, school, fitting in, guys. I mean, you know none of it matters, right? You’re going to go to college, get a job and learn that life is ultimately pointless and the most you can hope for is a good relationship with a dog before you die—mainly because the dog will then be able to alert your neighbors of your death by barking incessantly because it has some bizarre intuition/after a while it will want food.
Let’s start with boys. First of all, stop trying to fit in with all the senior boys. You’re just a freshman. This is your time to try in vain to make new friends your age, and fail at different elective courses, and hate yourself even more when trying out for the soccer team. Don’t get distracted by these magical, dangerous, older boys. The only thing you’ll get from them is a sloppy drunken make out session and a huge gash on the back of your ankle from trying to climb down the unfathomably jagged concrete stairs at one of their apartments, which will be worse than any shaving cut you could ever give yourself. And that scar will never heal. So that’s some symbolic shit.
Fuck guys—don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to be colossally disappointed by them later on in life. For now, focus on getting to know yourself. But lower your expectations—you’re going to change a lot over the 4 high school years, and then even more in college, and then even more when you go adulting. So just go with the flow, man. Roll with those punches. You’re going to want to be a perfectionist, but spoiler alert: perfection is a mirage. So quit taking your homework so seriously, and feeling like you have to take ALL the AP classes, and be in ALL the honor societies and get ALL the awards—you’ll never catch up to the cloistered, pretentious, God-fearing little goody two-shoes valedictorian who you’ll get into a debate with over abortion rights and she’ll cry, not because you said anything offensive, but because she’s a pussy who can’t handle intelligent discussion over the merits of religious moral authority.
In other words: there’s always going to be someone who wins more than you, so really stop trying so hard to catch up. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, it just means you get to give less fucks. Which is the end goal. On our death bed, we want to give equal to or less than 0 fucks. So you may as well start early. And this goes not just for guys, and academics, but making friends, too. There are going to be those girls who seem just so effortlessly cool, and like everyone loves them, and their friends are part of this secret club where life is just more seamless and sooo creative. But let me save you some heartache—those girls are manipulative sociopaths, and that’s how they pull everyone into their web of lies. You won’t see this going in, and before you know it, you’ll be the fly—caught, helpless, while they continue conquering their prey.
And you are NOT a fly. You are not prey, you are not a victim, and you are not as uncool and in need of validation as you think. You don’t need these capricious foes. Yeah, it may be lonely, but at least you’ll be free. Free to be yourself, free to be unapologetic, free to not be made to feel less than. The girls who seem like they have it all peak in high school (it’s really too bad that you didn’t see Mean Girls until after you graduated). And then they all become fat secretaries. You don’t want to be that. You don’t need to be that. What you need to do is work on finding your own center, and grounding yourself in that, because if you think high school is bad, just wait for the rest of your life—it’s awful (cue all the psychology students’ concern for my mental health). But it will be a lot easier to navigate if, at the end of every moment, you have a strong sense of yourself to come back to.
This is all a long way of saying whatever. Fuck everyone and everything in high school. People who like high school are not our people. They’re like people who don’t enjoy pizza and do enjoy running—we just don’t get them. High school seems so permanent, but it’s really the most fleeting thing (outside of your skinny prepubescent body and Britney Spears’ sanity). You just have to get through it, so that as you walk across the stage at graduation, you can bid everyone ADIEU and GOOD RIDDANCE with your middle finger held high.
I won’t say good luck, because I hate when people say good luck (it just makes me hope they fall down a spiral staircase), so I’ll just leave you with see you on the other side. Where, I promise, the grass really is greener (I mean, I don’t know because I never leave my bed, but I hear it’s lovely outside).
Present Day Alex
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/letter-high-school-self/
I’m no scholar, but I’m basically a scholar, so I think it’s my place to tell you what books to read. Also just to read, period. Get the fuck off your phones and your iPads and pick up an actual book. Really, your obsessive dependence on technology bores me.
Here are the books you need to read in your lifetime if you want to consider your existence not a complete waste.
1. The Bible
Starting out strong. It’s important to read about how to sell your daughter into slavery and stuff.
2. Lord of the Flies
Especially important to read this as a child–so much to be learned from the part when all the kids gang up on the boy they call “Piggy” and steal his glasses before pushing him off a cliff. Also The Hunger Games ripped this the fuck off–this is the OG; the real deal.
3. He’s Just Not That Into You
Because he isn’t. Lean In to that, ladies.
4. Through my Eyes, Tim Tebow’s Memoir
If only it were a postmortem biography… You get to learn all about how his mom was so God-fearing that she gave birth to TT despite the fact that the pregnancy endangered her life, because she’d rather die than have an abortion, obviously, and look how it turned out–she practically birthed an angel–God must have rewarded her piety by bestowing upon her child great football-related talents along with a marvelous level of ignorance and general douchebagery. If you’re lucky like me, your grandma will be obsessed with him and she’ll get you a copy for Christmas and then you’ll have to put it on your shelf so she won’t be offended, and you’ll feel a little guilty because when she starts to get dementia, you’ll silently be thankful that you can take the book off the shelf and she won’t care because she won’t remember she got it for you.
5. Elixir by Hilary Duff
I think we can all agree we should be reading any book by Lizzie McGuire.
6. The Catcher in the Rye
But seriously though. And fuck your freshman English teacher–he’ll say that Holden Caulfield is crazy, and he’ll be wrong. NOPE, he’s the crazy one, and so are all your stupid classmates who agree with him, good-for-nothing vapid lemming motherfuckers.
7. Etiquette by Emily Post
•”If you would be thought a person of refinement, don’t nudge or pat or finger people. Don’t hold hands or walk arm-about-waist in public. Never put your hand on a man, except in dancing and in taking his arm if he is usher at a wedding or your partner for dinner or supper. Don’t allow anyone to paw you.”
•”It is not considered a triumph to have many love affairs, but rather an evidence of stupidity and bad taste.” [Translated into modern language: “Don’t be a ho.”]
•”Every one supposes that lovers kiss each other, but people of good taste wince at being forced to play audience at love scenes which should be private. Furthermore, such cuddling gives little evidence of the deeper caring—no matter how ardent the demonstration may be.” [She makes some great points..]
8. It Hurts When I Poop!
Can we talk about how it looks like the giraffe/dinosaur is fucking him? And the boat and duck are watching, giddy with pleasure? I mean if this isn’t kiddie porn, then I’m not sure what is. I’d like to have a discussion with Howard J. Bennett to ask him just what exactly he was thinking. So, in sum, this is a great read for book clubs–it stimulates discussion.
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=73364
In part two of my awards catch-up sesh today comes The Premio Dardos Award which Aaron at The Confusing Middle was nice enough to nominate me for–this one also took me too long to post, sorry Aaron! But I’m honored–thank you!! And please check out his blog–he’s the best–funny, genuine, smart, and kind.
Again, I’m shirking the rules, but wanted to give Aaron a shout out and lots of gratitude. 🙂