So, last week we got Freshly Pressed for the second time. Woooo! And we even somehow got more page views than during our first lightning strike of good fortune! Perhaps because we now have so-called ‘content.’ Anyway, after much frivolity and celebration, Sam and I set out to determine exactly how this came to pass. Unfortunately, our frivolity was a bit too frivolous, and the next morning, all we had was a pizza napkin with the phrases “internet gnomes” and “snorkel” scribbled hastily in tomato sauce.
We later expanded on this idea, but “really sneaky internet gnome oceanographers” still seemed like a subpar explanation.
Having failed at our initial attempt, we decided to do the next best thing: retrace our steps and copy them exactly.
After much sleuthing and step-tracing, we’ve compiled a handy, step-by-step guide that should allow us to achieve brilliance on a weekly basis. In our extreme beneficence, we’ve decided to share these trade secrets with you, the reader. This may be career suicide, but as enlightened members of the Internet Age, we realize that all information must be free and open for the good of humanity. So here, without further ado, is the secret to creating a killer blog post (maybe).
5 P.M. Step 1 (Russ): Prepare
Good. You’re starting early. This is gonna be a piece of cake. Sit down at your unnecessarily-powerful gaming computer, slap on your nerdy wrist guard that protects you from the dangers of typing, and pour yourself a little scotch to, you know, channel the Spirits of Hemingway. Here we go.
5:05 P.M. Step 2 (Russ): Procrastinate
You have more than enough time to write this bad boy. After all, you started early! You deserve a reward for your dedication. Maybe an episode of TV. Or two. Or three.
6:30 P.M. Step 3 (Russ): Guilt
I can’t believe you wasted all that time! What were you thinking? And you call yourself a writer. Writers write. They don’t sit around, you know, not writing.
7:00 P.M. Step 4 (Russ): Choose a Topic
Let’s see, what to write about? Your life’s been going on for a while now—something must have happened somewhere along the line. Something? Anything? Oh god. How could anyone ever care about what you have to say?
7:15 P.M. Step 5 (Russ): Admit Failure
Face it. You’ve never experienced a single real crisis or challenge or unique event (outside of that time you tripped and caught your ice cream scoop with its own cone). How could you possibly think you’d be able to produce quality writing inspired by your own life?
7:45 P.M. Step 6 (Russ): Beg
In the course of living amongst humanity, you’ve managed to spend a lot of your time around “people.” Maybe they can help! Go through your phone book and ask everyone you know if they have any brilliant ideas for your blog.
8:00 P.M. Step 1 (Sam): Receive the Signal
Instant message from Russ. Hello. Yes, you know what day it is. You’ll get done in about an hour probably. No you don’t have any idea about what to write about.
8:30 P.M. Step 7 (Russ): Resent Others
If they had truly been your friends, they would have dropped everything to figure out exactly what you should say to the people of the internet. Reminding you of the time you ate eight-month-old cream cheese isn’t enough!
9:00 P.M. Step 8 (Russ): Come to Terms with Reality (Not sure if this step has ever actually occurred)
Ok, it’s getting late. You need to have something written. After all, tomorrow’s a Tuesday, and you’ve made a group of strangers a promise for some reason.
9:45 P.M. Step 9 (Russ): Start a Draft
The time has come to actually put words onto virtual paper. Slap on some tunes, like the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack or the music of World of Warcraft. Pound a Rockstar or two and get in the zone. If you just start hitting keys, letters will appear, and perhaps they’ll form words, which will perhaps make sentences.
11:00 P.M. Step 10 (Russ): Finish the Draft
Genius. This is pure gold. You’re really on a roll tonight. You’re even starting to remember why you love writing.
11:10 P.M. Step 11 (Russ): Read the Draft.
Oh god, what were you thinking? Did you write those words? Those utterly despicable words. The caffeine must have given you hallucinations or something.
11:15 P.M. Step 2 (Sam): Finish Work at the Office
Holy cow, how did it get so late?
11:20 P.M. Step 12 (Russ): Freak Out
You clearly have no talent. Maybe this blog thing was a bad idea. But wait, blogging is all you’re qualified for. If not this, then what?!
11:30 P.M. Step 13 (Russ): Write Another Draft
Ok. There has to be something salvageable here. If you can just trim the bad parts, your junkyard of a draft should provide the materials to rebuild your post, stronger than it was before. You have the technology.
11:35 P.M. Step 3 (Sam): Go Home
Bike home in the dark. On the way, it’ll start to rain. Keep an eye out for low-hanging branches which will whip you in the face, just to make sure you aren’t enjoying yourself too much.
12:15 A.M. Step 14 (Russ): Send It to Sam
Send the file to your co-blogger, hoping against hope that your words won’t cause his eyes to melt away in horror, like that time you accidentally looked into the Ark of the Covenant.
12:16 A.M. Step 4 (Sam): Ignore Draft
There’s a draft of something on your computer when you boot it back up. Lovely. You should read it, but you haven’t eaten in a while. Food will put you in a better mood, and you’re going to have to make it eventually anyway.
12:30 A.M. Step 5 (Sam): Finish Dinner
That was a good decision. Nothing like salami on pita bread to let you know you’re alive.
12:20 A.M. Step 15 (Russ): Worry
As Sam reads the draft, you’ll be unable to accomplish anything. Will this be the one that finally reveals your complete ineptitude? Will you alienate all your readers? Will they realize how unfunny you are? Oh god, why hasn’t Sam said anything? He’ll assure you it’s because he was making dinner, but you know the truth. He doesn’t know how to break the news to you.
12:30 A.M. Step 6 (Sam): Read and Edit Draft
Hm. This post makes very little sense and will probably insult a good many of your readers. How do you break the news to him? And how the hell does he expect you to draw a cow explaining ‘the concept of remorse’? Make some edits and hope the images won’t change in the rewrite.
1:00 A.M. Step 7 (Sam): Protect Russ’s Ego
Go back and add some positive feedback to your edits so Russ doesn’t think you hate it.
1:05 A.M. Step 16 (Russ): Rejoice
Sam says he likes it! Not only that, but he’s made a slew of edits and now it’s five times funnier. That guy’s the best!
1:15 A.M. Step 8 (Sam) Start Drawing
Well, you’d better get started—it’s not getting any earlier. Start with the one that seems like the easiest and least likely to be in the final draft. Make sure to save the most complicated one for last so that when you finally get to it you’re so tired that the thought of drawing it becomes an overwhelming chore!
It’s best to queue up all the latest episodes of The Colbert Report on the other monitor as you draw. Keeps the mind occupied.
After each drawing is finished, send it over to Russ. If it confuses him, you’ve done something wrong. Usually though, he’s absurdly excited about it to the point that you feel embarrassed. Then he’ll make a couple perfectly reasonable observations about how to improve them, and you will grudgingly grumble about having to make them even though he’s absolutely right.
1:20 A.M. Step 17 (Russ): Rewrite Over and Over and Over Whilst Giving Feedback on Sam’s Drawings
You wonder how Sam will manage to bring your absurdly complicated whims to visual reality. Every half hour or so he’ll shoot you a draft of a drawing. How did he make that so good?! Once in a while though, you’ll need to step in and tell him that the hands he drew are too claw-like and terrifying. While he deals with this, do around 5 rewrites, making sure to work in some television, or, if you’re alone, something more risqué.
2:00 A.M. Step 9a (Sam): Enjoy Yourself
You’re making fairly good progress. See, this is fine. This is fun! Drawing is what you love to do, right? Why do you act like this is some sort of chore you have in addition to work? You just need to relax a bit!
2:10 A.M. Step 9b (Sam): Really Enjoy Yourself
Inhale or imbibe some relaxing substances. You’ll have a blast! This is going to be the best post ever.
3:45 A.M. Step 10 (Sam): Panic
Your masterpiece is complete! Adding that extra alien spaceship was totally worth it. And it’s only–how is it already 3:45?? There are still… 9 more pictures to draw??? How did this happen? You’ll briefly consider lying down and resting your eyes for just 10 minutes, but you know if you do that, there’s no waking up.
6:00 A.M. Step 11 (Sam): Rejoice
That’s the last drawing! Should you edit the text one last time? You could. But then again, it’s six in the morning.
“Can I go to bed now?”
The 30 seconds it takes Russ to respond will be the longest in the world.
6:00 and 30 seconds A.M. Step 18 (Russ): Let Sam Sleep
Sam never drinks as many Rockstars, so by the time he finishes the art, he’ll only be about 10% awake and will be very disgruntled by any requests for early morning companionship. If you try to ask him for input now, he’ll just start ranting, marveling at your ability to be so incredibly verbose without actually saying anything.
6:05 A.M. Step 12 (Sam): Sleep
Check Reddit one last time on your phone before collapsing in exhaustion.
6:30 A.M. Step 19 (Russ): Despair
You need to think of bonus jokes for all the images?! This last, dainty straw will be more than your caffeine-fueled, overclocked brain can bear. And you were so close to completing this week’s post without a mental breakdown!
6:40 A.M. Step 20 (Russ): Man Up
Just say the first thing that comes into your head. No one’s going to know. People probably don’t even read the mouseover text anyway.
7:00 A.M. Step 21 (Russ): Final Review
Read through it one last time. Too bad at this point you’ll no longer be able tell what’s funny and what’s gibbering inanity. Your ability to comprehend words will seem to have fled entirely. That’s the sign that you’ve finished the post!
7:15 A.M. Step 22 (Russ): Post It!
A great sense of accomplishment and release should wash over you as you stare at your fledgling post, all on its own out there in the dangerous world of the internet. It doesn’t know what it’s in for.
7:16 A.M. Step 23 (Russ): Refresh!
Time to go to the stats page and hit F5 until your fingers break. Has anyone seen it yet? What about now? Now? Any comments? I can’t wait to respond to comments!
7:45 A.M. Step 24 (Russ): Go to Sleep
When the sun is shining brightly in the rosy dawn and the birds begin their joyful song, delighted by another beautiful morning, you’ll know it’s time for bed. Shut down your computer, turn off the lights, and crawl under your covers, comforted by the fact that you’ve accomplished a bare minimum of productivity. You may not get paid, but at least it’s something.
8:00 A.M. Step 25 (Russ): Wait a Second!
As you drift off to sleep, your brain will drowsily mull over the post, which will inevitably lead to the realization that you should have referred to that evil taxi driver as a “toothless hobgoblin” instead of a “vehicle-dwelling night-lurker,” or something equally unimportant.
8:15 A.M. Step 26 (Russ): Boot Up the Computer and Make Changes
Leap out of bed and input the minor changes. As long as the computer’s already on, you might as well refresh the stats page. And if you wait just a few more minutes there are sure to be comments to respond to!…
And there you have it. As easy as stuffing a rabid weasel into a snake-filled gunnysack! And not nearly as much chance of infection! With these simple steps, you too can be on your way to making a mark in the blogging world. And if you’re nothing like us, perhaps you’ll manage to keep your psyche from shattering into tiny, unsalvageable parts along the way!
Note: If, in repeating these steps exactly, you find yourself able to write something that would gain Internet-wide mild approval and bemusement, we hope you’ll remember Reasonably Ludicrous as the blog that made it all possible. Good luck!
Bonus Step 27:
Add this step so that the title of your post can seem like a Hitchcock reference.