Happy birthday to the Twitter!

A nice little video about the evolution of the Twitter, which is 6.942 bazillion times better than the Book of Face, which will one day go the way of MySpace — and not even powers of Justin the Timberlake will be able to save Zuckerberg’s baby.

I’d throw another “which” in there, but it’d just be piling on.

Also: What is the ONE THING you would delete about the Twitter, aside from nuking direct messages from orbit?

Also-also: What is the ONE THING you would add to the Twitter?

3 ways to change the digital world FOREVER

media strategy saturday meme

It is official: social media now dominates the Series of Tubes.

Every year, these smart people produce a slick video about the interwebs, and this year’s video is especially good and interesting.

Now, having filled your brain with facts and numbers and industrial euro-pop dance music, WHAT DO WE DO?

Simple. We change the world.

Change # 1: One Contact Thing to rule them all

So you’ve got contacts in your gmail at home and Outlook at work, Twitter lists of followers and all kinds of Facebook friends, Tumblr buddies and Pinterest pals and a dozen other things.

It is an unholy mess.

Blessed be the app that gives us One Contact Thing, a single shebang with the magical powers to organize all your contacts, from all those stupid platforms, in one tidy place. The power will be unthinkable.

This means ending the nonsense about Instagram not talking to Twitter because she saw him flirting with Google or whatever. And yes, we need it to be easy and quick and on our phones. Because I’m not firing up the PC every time I need to look up a phone number or Twitter handle.

Whoever does this first — Apple, Google, Microsoft, some dude in his basement coding the app in his pajamas — will rule the interwebs forever and ever.

Change # 2: Obliterate voice mail and switch to texting

Am I saying we should take voice mail behind the barn and shoot it? No. I’m saying take it behind the barn, hang it, set it on fire, THEN shoot it.

Nobody likes voice mail. Nobody.

Don’t call my cell phone and make me dial up voice mail, punch in a password I keep forgetting, then listen for two minutes. Especially when 99.99 percent of all voice mail messages are things you can sum up in a short text like, “Phone tag, you’re it” or “Pick up some milk, yo” or “I’m a reclusive billionaire with $400 million sitting around, and instead of handing it to Karl Rove, who I wouldn’t trust at this point to run a successful race for student body president at Willapa Valley Junior High, I’d like some return on my investment.”

Send a text, people. College kids these days don’t even use email anymore. They think email is so 1994.

If it’s too complicated for a text, send an email.

If you really hate me, send a voice mail. Make it long. Don’t leave your number or email — assume that I’ve memorized it. And then when I call back, make sure you don’t answer your phone so I can start the whole thing rolling with a voice mail of my own.

Therefore, we will nuke voice mail from orbit, and the world will rejoice.

Change # 3: Real photos, good bios and no anonymous trolls

Twitter, Facebook and every other social media shebang is full of photos and bios of people that may be human, and might be young or old, male or female, con artist or genius.

You can’t tell, though, because (a) their profile photo is a shot of a cat, Yoda holding a lightsaber or a pile of leaves, (b) their Twittter handle is @jkringer392 and (c) their bio is a train wreck of obscure references to Star Trek fan fiction and such. I have seen all of these things and more. Who will pay for my therapy?

Related post: 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys

There are plenty of places for anonymous folks to say whatever they like. Sites like reddit will always be around. Have at it.

HOWEVER: papers of news, TV stations and serious blogs need to stop feeding the trolls by letting TrailerParkNinja and TexasMustSecede2016! dominate the comment sections with anonymous spam and hateful, nonsense. So let’s cut back on that by requiring commenters to use real photos and bios. Want to spew? Go spew in Anonymous Land.

If you’re going to be on the Series of Tubes, and want to be taken Seriously, you need a Serious photo — of you, not your cat — and a real bio. Period.

Long ago, only famous people needed public relations folks, who made sure actors, authors and other celebrities had good mug shots and nice bios. Today, everybody is online. Your photo, bio and name are what people see first. But average people don’t have a publicist. They’re flying in the dark with a blindfold, and yeah, it shows.  

Wonder why you aren’t getting many followers on Twitter or hits to your blog? Take a look at your photo and bio.

Trying to get a job / book deal / punk rock music contract? Take a hard look at what people see, in the first five seconds, when they check you out on Twitter and the Book of Face and such.

People don’t make a decision about you after reading your short stories or listening to three mp3s of sample songs on your blog. They glance at your photo and decide, in half a second, whether to interact with you or never give you a second thought. They do this all the time, in a hurry. Ten people just followed you on Twitter, and you follow back or not, clicking away with your mousity mouse, no-no-yes-no-yes-yes-no. You don’t ponder these decisions, right? Bam. So make it easy on people by taking it seriously. I’m talking to you, Miss Duckface, who shot your profile photo in the bathroom mirror using an iPhone.

People need a place –a Profile Doctor–to get easy and quick help with this sort of thing, without putting a public relations firm on retainer.

5 ways to make blog posts GO ALL VIRAL

There is no guaranteed method, no secret way, to make a blog post that causes the Series of Tubes to explode.

Anybody who says otherwise is a lying liar full of lying liaosity.

Because this is an art, not a science.

HOWEVER: There are things that are smart, and give you a chance.

yoda after the death star blows up
If your magical blog post causes the Series of Tubes to blow up like a Death Star orbiting the second moon of Yavin, then Yoda will celebrate by dropping it like it’s hot.

5) Swing for the fences

If all your blog posts are kinda the same — the same topic, the same length, the same tone — it’s a good bet none of them will ever magically shock the world.

Learn from PETA, which gets gobs and gobs of free ink and airtime by trying bold, crazy PR stunts.

Most of them fail. Sometimes, they get a little bad press for a stunt gone wrong.

But they keep swinging for the fences, because there is no real penalty for swinging and missing.

People only really pay attention when you hit that towering home run.

So PETA does the opposite of most non-profits, companies, politicians, authors, actors and would-be Famous Peoples: they don’t (a) craft a strategy full of bunts and singles, (b) assume all those bunts and singles will work 100 percent of the time, then (c) freak out when things don’t work out exactly according to the plan and (d) yell at their publicist for all those failures.

PETA knows most swings of the bat will miss. They’re smart about it. They don’t whine or cry in their IPA’s after hours, asking God why nobody prints their press releases. They swing hard. They know missing is part of the game. And they keep on swinging, knowing that all it takes is one solid smack of the bat to get their message through in newspapers, radio and TV around the world.

I did a bunch of posts examining how PETA and other folks do publicity right. Read them. It’ll make you rethink playing small ball.

4) Start with a killer photo

Words are great. I adore words, and I bet you do, too.

Treating photos as an afterthought, though, is crazy.

Because images are more powerful than words. They tap directly into a primal part of our brain and work all kinds of magic, bam, faster than you know it, all while your brain is still processing the first few words of the headline and such.

Every post should have one killer image.

Every post.

Snag a shot from flickr or morguefile. Snap away with your iPhone or Droid — or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, a Nikon of Infinite Beauty.

Use one of the online meme generators (they are legion) to add words to a fresh meme.

Better yet, find a photo and start an entirely new meme.

What if I told you ... how to get to Sesame Street?
Make your own meme already. DO IT NOW.

3) Embrace viral networks

Everybody basically has a blog, a Facebook page and uses Twitter — that’s pretty standard.

Hear me now and believe me later in the week: that won’t help you go viral.

Blogs just sit there, really. Nobody except your subscribers will realize you’ve got a new post.

The Book of Face is social networking, not social media. Same with Twitter.

They aren’t designed, really, for things to go viral. Are they better than a kick in the head? Yeah.

For a blog post to really go viral, you need it to make noise on Pinterest or Reddit, Digg or Stumbleupon — those sorts of sites.

Because lumping all these sites under the term “social media” is stupid.

whuh?
What? Social networking and social media are not the same thing?

There’s social networking, where you make new friends and talk smack with those friends.

There’s social media, which sort of works as an alternative to mass media (papers of news, radio, TV) — but not really.

And then there are viral networks.

To make a blog post go viral, people who use viral networks must (a) see your post and (b) share it.

That means putting the right sharing buttons on each post.

It means joining a few of those viral networks to see how they work.

And it means using those networks to push sharing buttons on stuff your friends post, not just your own stuff.

This is where a killer photo comes in handy. Pinterest and other viral networks are incredibly visual. If your post doesn’t have an image, it’s basically impossible to post on many viral networks. Even if they let you post, I don’t suggest doing it. Because a photo is key.

2) Use the video, Luke

Moving pictures are even BETTER than regular old pictures, which are better than words.

Here. I’ll make it all simple with logic and such:

Video > Photos > Words

Find short clips on YouTube that illustrate your point.

Snag animated gifs that are related, and funny, and not gross or pervy.

Techno Viking does not listen to the prayers of men, or bloggers. He only wants to dance, and to crush his enemies, then dance a little more.
Techno Viking does not listen to the prayers of men, or bloggers. He only wants to dance, and to crush his enemies, then dance a little more.

There is no shortage of video clips and gifs. I am constantly amazed by the creativity of peoples on the Series of Tubes, and I tip my hat to them. You make me laugh, and learn things, because video is the most primal way of reaching people.

1) Wrap it all up with a head-turning headline

The Greatest Blog Post in the History of the Blogosphere won’t matter if your headline is something like “What I wrote this morning, after I had some Cocoa Puffs”

Give your post a great headline. How?

Bottom line, you want the headline to create interest by (a) raising interesting questions about (b) stuff people already care about, and I have to say  (c) if your blog is a thinly disguised diary, and eliminating the words “I” and “me” would cause the word counts of all your posts to drop by 20 percent, then yeah, that stuff isn’t really interesting or what people care about. Don’t do it.

Interesting questions include anything primal: life and death, love affairs and disasters, monsters and myths.

Stuff people already care about include books and movies, music and plays, stupid reality TV shows, politics, news, art, photography, stupid reality TV shows about celebrities and anything funny.

So what’s a good killer headline? Here are a few:

  • Top 10 things to do before Comet 1948A destroys Earth
  • Why JAWS and FATAL ATTRACTION are the same flipping story
  • If the Bachelor and Bachelorette are 0 for 40-whatever on engagements and marriages, is all hope for love lost — or is reality TV just an empty wasteland of vacuous, fame-chasing idiots?

Now, I’m kidding with that last headline. Bit too long.

On the other hand, it is unusual and would stand out. Bet you if I wrote a post with exactly that headline, it might make a splash. That last hed (journalism slang alert!) happily swings for the fences.

So don’t worry about missing, and don’t place all your bets on some golden post.

Swing hard.

Swing often.

Swing true.

Because every time you shoot for something bold and spectacular, even if you fail, you’ll get better at it. And you won’t learn how to hit home runs if all you do is aim for bunts and singles.

Top 10 Myths of Journalism School

Oh, if I could go back in time, and whisper in the ear of my younger self during journalism school.

Not that I was busy screwing it up. Editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, graduated No. 1 in my class, won a bunch of awards, blah-blah-blah. (Related: Who is this Guy?)

But the traditional things that most journalism students think they SHOULD be doing — well, often those are seven separate kinds of wrong.

And there are other things Serious Journalism Majors scoff at, things that you actually should not only embrace, but hug tightly to your bosom.

So here we go with the Top 10 Myths of Journalism School.

Myth No. 10: Hard news is the only true love of a Serious Journalism Major

Sure, unfiltered Marlboros and Jim Beam come close. But nothing beats a scoop about an amazing scandal. You laugh at people trying to make the words flow for their feature story on dumpster divers, a story packed with all these photos, which are for nancypants who don’t have the stones to write more words.

Here’s the truth: hard news is all about news gathering and using the inverted pyramid, which is a horrible structure for any sort of writing and needs to be taken behind the barn and shot.

Hard news is worthy, and does the public a great service. Yet if all you do is hard news, you won’t truly learn journalism — or how to write.

Myth No. 9: Journalism school will teach you how to write

Once you get that pigskin from j-school, and land your first journalism  gig — at The Willapa Valley Shopper or The New York Times — you’ll go home after 12 hours of banging on the keyboard to stay up past midnight, banging on the keyboard some more while smoking Gallouise Blondes and drinking cheap whiskey sours as you write (a) the next Great American Novel, (b) a Broadway play involving a debutant who falls in love with a struggling young reporter or (c) a Hollywood screenplay about a vast government conspiracy unraveled by an intrepid young intern at CBS.

This will be a lot of fun, and you’ll remember this as being the Best Thing Ever until you’ve been doing it for seven months and turning every draft of your extra-curricular writerly fun into three-point attempts. Also, you will miss this thing we call “sleep” and these other things we call “money in the checking account” and “a social life that does not involve typing on a keyboard chatting with a person who may, or may not, actually exist.”

J-school will teach you to be a journalist, but not how to write. You’ll know the AP Stylebook better than the people who wrote it, and your noggin will be stuffed full of the mechanics of writing news stories, how to put out a newspaper or produce a magazine. It may even teach you how to produce radio and TV shows.

Journalism school won’t, however, make you an all-purpose writer. And to truly learn how to write, you need to learn how to edit. I don’t mean copy edit or proof.

Sidenote: I wrote this in a crazy hurry and have not proofed it, or copy edited it, much less edited-edited the sucker. My apologies. God knows what kind of felony crimes against journalism were committed on this silly blog today. 

Myth No. 8: Copy editing is editing

Sure, you sleep with your AP Stylebook, and proof-reading marks are like a second language. But that’s not editing.

There’s proofing, copy editing and true editing. Vastly different things.

Anybody who’s literate can proof. Do I want a great proofer? Sure, I want the best around, because errors are inevitable, and it takes a special person to have the stamina to read page after page. This isn’t rocket science, though.

Copy editing is important. When something is written on deadline, in a huge hurry, the copy editor is a Writing God, saving you from making gigantic factual errors or crimes against the English language.

True editing, though, is different, and you won’t learn it in journalism school. Not unless you seek it out.

Myth No. 7: You should specialize in your special thing while pish-toshing PR, because that’s for cheerleaders

Maybe you’re a sports guy, and all you want to do is write about baseball. It’s your passion. In fact, it’s your dream to cover the San Francisco Giants as a beat reporter. Anything else would be a let-down.

Out in real newsrooms, you’ll switch beats — and newspapers, or TV stations, or whatever — all the time. One month you might be covering politics and the next month it’s a huge murder trial. As a reporter, I covered city council meetings that lasted until midnight, got up the next day and did a flood, a fire or a bumbling serial killer. You never knew what was going to happen, and that’s why journalism is fun. The smaller the paper or media outlet, the more different things you get to cover. The bigger the paper or TV station, the more specialized you get.

So in college, try everything you can. Features, sports, the opinion page. Give radio a shot, and TV if you can. Somebody who can do lots of things, and is interested in many things, is a lot more marketable and fun than a journalist who’s obsessed with one solitary thing.

Also, public relations isn’t something journalism majors should take because it’s a required course. Chances are, you won’t do journalism forever.

Maybe five or ten years after you start working at papers of news, you’ll meet an amazing girl, or a wonderful boy, and the two of you will get married and decide that living on Top Ramen was fun for the first year, and kind of unfun the second year, and if you ever want to have babies and buy a house and send your pookie to college, the job thing may need to get revisited. And instead of selling Toyotas, you want to stick with some kind of writing gig, except one that pays decently and won’t make you worry about the next round of layoffs and such.

This happens. It’s OK, and public relations is a growing field — social media PR is crazy hot right now — while traditional journalism is shrinking before it changes and takes flight again. (I have hope.) Take the PR classes and learn from them. You will not die.

Myth No. 6: All you need is a pen and notebook

These days, it’s a pen, a notebook,  a laptop, a camera and a smart phone, though the phone is a given, and would require a surgical team / SWAT team / NFL team to separate most people from their phones.

A lot of print reporters are taking their own photos these days, with newsroom cutbacks for photo staff. There are far fewer photographers on staff than reporters. Can’t send a shutterbug out on every story, only the biggest ones.

Get a decent SLR and practice. A lot.

That camera will also shoot HD video, and most papers and radio stations are also putting video up on their blogs. Learn how to edit video a little, and to edit photos a whole bunch.

Sidenote: when I say “learn to edit photos,” I don’t mean firing up Instagram and applying the Lux effect.

Myth No. 5: Creative writing and drama people are weird

Yeah, they dress in black and like to quote Sylvia Plath and Oscar Wilde.

Get over it. Instead of taking tons of political science classes and such (I was guilty of this), take all the creative writing and drama that you can. Because you want to be a great journalist and writer instead of a U.S. Senator, right?

If your college has a screenwriting class, take it. If they don’t have screenwriting, buy SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder and STORY by Robert McKee. Read them all the way through while taking notes. Then go back and read them again, because those two books are all about structure, which is the secret to great writing. Not pretty words. Structure.

Also: speech and debate — or editing the opinion page of your college paper — are both crazy smart. You need to learn how to (a) speak in public and (b) persuade other human beings to do things, such as (c) getting sources to reveal secrets to you and (d) charming editors to run your story on Page 1 instead of burying it on Page 15 next to the obituaries. I got lucky by doing speech and debate, and being an opinion page editor, along with all the hard news. Those things gave me different ways of writing aside from the inverted pyramid. So hop on the happy train of storytelling and rhetoric. DO IT NOW.

Myth No. 4: Your  resume, GPA and 5-pound stack of clips — those are the ticket to success

They’re important to get into grad school, sure. And yeah, employers are a lot more impressed with somebody who has a 4.0 and a great resume than a loser.

But after your first real job, nobody cares about your grade point average and such. Or even where you went to school, unless it’s something insanely great (Harvard) or wacky beyond belief (French Polynesian College of Scientology and Barber School).

Here’s a secret: people get stacks of resumes that tower over their desk. They spend about two seconds per resume to sort them into three piles: YES, NO and MAYBE. Three-page resume? The NO pile. Weird font? NO. Paper as stiff as cardboard or so flimsy it tears? NO.

Here’s the cat who helps bosses around the world sort through stacks of resumes.

Then they go back into the YES pile and winnow it down until they’ve got enough people to call for interviews. And that’s if they even ask for resumes.

Also: one amazing clip with photos is better than three great clips or 5 pounds of good clips. NOBODY WILL READ ALL YOUR CLIPS. They’ll read the lede of the first graf of your first clip, maybe. I’d throw some more journalism slang in that sentence, but it’d just be piling on.

Myth No. 3: You can apply for any open job

A lot of times, jobs aren’t advertised. You won’t ever know they existed.

Why? Because people off the street are always a risk. Somebody with the Greatest Resume Known to Man could be a sociopath.

This is why the most important thing isn’t “who you know” but “who already knows you.” There’s a difference, and that segues to the next myth.

Myth No. 2: Internships are glorified slavery

You’re not getting paid for this free work. Why dress up, shave (face or legs), fight traffic and work like a dog while this paper of news / TV station / magazine makes all kinds of money from your free labor? Who cares if you’re late by 15 minutes or leave early? Who cares if you play Angry Birds on your phone during meetings?

Here’s the truth: internships mean jobs. Bosses would much rather skip the whole advertising for a job thing, which involves tons of paperwork, sorting through resumes and sitting through weeks of interviews. It’s a royal pain. If there was a couple interns they just had, people who were professional and hardworking, why not call them both up and hire one of them?

This happens far, far more than you think. And not just with internships. I’m ten times more likely to answer an email from somebody who’s chatted with me on Twitter than a total stranger (delete). The same thing is true for freelance jobs.

Myth No. 1: You’ll win the Pulitzer prize and retire to a villa in France

After you work for six months, putting in all-nighters to uncover the Biggest Scoop Journalism Has Ever Seen, and blow the socks off every Pulitzer Prize judge, your hometown will throw a ticker-tape parade, the mayor will give you the keys to the city and The New York Times will fight it out with The Washington Post to see who can give you $1.3 million a year along with your own set of minions.

Oh, that’s a nice dream. It would make a great movie. I know people who’ve won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, and while it’s a great honor, they didn’t get snatched up by the national biggies or have buckets of monies rain upon their noggins. Yeah, it’s a big deal, and the best possible award for journalists, and everybody pronounces it wrong.

Despite all that, winning the Pulitzer Prize is not like holding the winning ticket to MegaMillions.

HOWEVER: Journalism isn’t about getting famous or getting rich. It’s about serving your audience, and giving them news and information. The profession is interesting and fun, and even though it’s changing fast, the need for information — and for people who can write — is only growing.

If you choose journalism, you won’t get rich. You won’t get famous.

What you will get is an interesting life. And that’s something worth more than paper decorated with dead presidents.

Top 10 evil tips for authors, actors and artists

So, you’re a creative type — a writer of epic literary novels, an actor schlepping tables in Hollywood or a great artist in a black turtleneck who paints canvasses black because that’s HOW YOU FEEL about global hegemony.

How can you bust through and make it?

Oh, I’ve written all sorts of silly posts about free ink and airtime, and have sent my minions to start work on the Mother of All Evil Media Plans, as a special thing for my peoples.

But all that free ink and airtime stuff is somewhat Serious, and requires Work — while you are in a Hurry.

Who has time for all that sweaty work nonsense?

Here are my Top 10 Evil Tips for Authors, Actors and Artists.

 

10) Learn to love Top Ramen.

As a creative type, you must properly suffer. True art does not come from being content. No.

The first step in suffering is living on a food budget of $25 a week. As a former reporter, I have done this. Unless you’re a Trustafarian, you also did this during college.

Nobody can eat on $25 a week without a heavy reliance on Top Ramen, which comes in the following flavors: beef, chicken, fishy shrimp something-something, salty, picante beef-whatever and extra-salty with a hint of I-don’t-know.

Also good and cheap: zucchini, which they damn near give away, and tofu.

 

9) Travel the world on the cheap and document your brilliance.

Nobody will take you seriously as a writer, actor or artist if the only foreign country you’ve visited is Canada, which DOES NOT COUNT. Neither does Google Earth, wise guy.

But how can a person with a weekly food budget of $25 see the world?

First, you must hitchhike across the country.

Are you on the East Coast? Get to San Francisco. Those living on the West Coast must sneak onto freight trains and ride the rails to NYC.

All you folks living on the farm in Iowa, growing corn and having long conversations about Hemingway with Bessie the Cow, well, you can flip a coin: SF or NYC.

Once you get to a real metropolis, visit all the free museums you can to soak up some culture. Then get on a tramp steamer that’ll take you to Amsterdam / Africa / Australia or some other foreign land that starts with A.

Stuff your backpack with Top Ramen — you’re gonna need it. Learn to eat it dry, like popcorn. Also, your clothes are not “used” and “bought from Goodwill for $2 a pop.” They are “vintage” and “rare” and “unique.”

While you travel, fill a Moleskin notebook with deep, thoughtful scribbles. Do this all the time: in your apartment, during smoke breaks at your job waiting tables at Applebees, on the tramp steamer heading for Amsterdam — just scribble away.

Great artists can say pithy things about anything, whether it’s the social dynamics of cooks vs. wait staff at soulless suburban restaurant chains or sunset from the deck of a cargo ship carrying iPods to India.

 

8) Take photos of your life, and your journeys, with a cheap camera.

Did your mom give you a fancy Nikon D3100 for your birthday? Sell it.

You’re a struggling artist, and nobody struggles when they’re using a camera that’s worth more than their car.

Find a camera that fits your lifestyle, something retro and vintage and cheap that uses this thing we call “film.” Will you have trouble finding places that still develop film? Yes. But a true artist will make their own darkroom and develop their own photos using Lysol and bleach or whatever as fixing agents.

Your photos are NOT blurry and out of focus. They are SAYING something about life that crisp, clear, corporate photos don’t have the courage to say.

 

7) Start out with a bang.

Now that you’ve suffered, traveled the country and world and documented it all with words (“text”) and photos (“images”), you need to make your first real move.

Don’t do the usual thing of starting a blog, writing for a small magazine or acting in community theater.

You need to make a splash. To say something insanely bold, even if you don’t believe a word of it. To do what has never been done before.

Write a novel using only the letters on the left side of the keyboard. Putting a toilet on the wall of a gallery is boring — stick a PortaPotty with a real person inside up there. Do a one-act play reinventing Hamlet in a darkened theater where the actors are all wearing black ninja outfits while they speak German.

 

6) Find a patron and marry well.

Now that you did something insane, find a bored, rich person who was entertained by it.

Write a memoir about their life — or paint their portrait using six different types of soil from the farm in Nebraska where they grew up. Whatever it takes to stop eating Top Ramen.

A rich patron is great and all, but their loyalty is not guaranteed. Who’s to say they won’t start giving scads of money to the next hot painter or writer? The money spigot could be shut down at any moment. You can’t count on them paying the rent every month. Marry them if you can. If you can’t, find a pediatrician, dentist, torts attorney or business executive who does something boring and needs a creative type to balance things out, to provide a little spark and adventure and culture in their life. Also, to pay all your bills.

As a great artist, you’re not worried about making sure this person is “the one.” It’s expected that you’ll have five or six marriages and an insanely complicated love life. What matters is that (a) the gossip rags print your name right and (b) the bills get paid.

 

5) Make sure your ways are mysterious.

Other people write using Word, on a computer. Their successful habits include writing at least 500 words before breakfast and separating writing / creating from editing / polishing.

Those things put the B in Boring, and you are anything but boring.

Compose everything on an Underwood typewriter while (a) blindfolded, (b) drunk and (c) smoking unfiltered cigarettes from Morocco.

Paint your masterpieces while hanging from gravity boots and listening to Black Sabbath.

Your methods must be inscrutable.

 

4) Take up an appropriately impressive sport.

Hang gliding is not quite epic enough. Ultimate Fighting would have been great 10 years ago, but it’s too mainstream now for you.

Fencing is interesting and harkens back to the good old days, you know, when men who felt insulted grabbed a rapier or a pistol and tried to kill the other man.

Knife fights against rival artists would be perfect. Make sure you win, which means you should probably cheat somehow. Ideally, you’ll win a fight against your nemesis but get a wicked facial scar and maybe even lose an eye, so you can spend the rest of your life wearing a black eyepatch.

 

3) Lie like a rug.

The truth is boring and bourgeoise, isn’t it? You’re above that.

If three different people ask you the same question, give three different answers. Bonus points for making each new answer more outrageous and epic than the last.

Did you once get lazy and not mow your lawn for a month? Well, that’s not what you TELL anybody. You tell a reporter that any moral person should have objections to wielding a gasoline-powered instrument of death on defenseless vegetation, that only a heartless fool would decimate the habitat of millions of insects and birds. Then the next time somebody asks about it, you say that plants and insects aren’t truly conscious and you burned your lawn with a flamethrower as a demonstration of the existentialist absurdity of life.

Have you been faithfully married to the same person for 21 years? Oh, don’t tell anybody that. It is so suburban. Say you live in a free-love commune with seven other authors, artists and actors, and that you all sleep on a trampoline covered in fleece blankets.

 

2) Be obscure, difficult and deep.

Nothing says “loser” like being nice, direct and clear.

Give quotes and speeches so convoluted that you don’t even understand what you said. Abuse your underlings. Contradict yourself in the same sentence.

Wear sunglasses at all time while chain-smoking Gallouise Blondes in non-smoking areas, and don’t leave when asked. Don’t even leave when the police show up, because getting arrested is like having $100,000 in free press. You’re not a real celebrity until you’ve got a decent collection of mug shots on TMZ.

If you tell somebody you love them in the morning, you can’t say the same thing that night, now, can you? You hate them. Then the next morning, you love them again. Celebrate this new development by going on a five-day road trip where you sleep during the day at cheap motels and drive at night, taking photos only of different rest-stop signs.

 

1) Fake your death.

Nothing boosts sales like dying. The tricky part will be coming BACK without ruining everything.

Maybe you were having a knife fight on a tramp steamer heading to Zanzibar when a rogue wave swept you overboard, and it took you six months to cross the Sahara and catch another boat back to the states.

Do this right and maybe you can finally afford to divorce Pediatrician No. 4.