- Pick a number. Any number. List posts are the bomb, and Thought Catalog loves them (see also: That Girl Magazine).
- Think of something relatable. Take sex, or family, or music. Refer to it in your title, so that people will think that this, at last, will be the Thought Catalog that they relate to. (Relating to a Thought Catalog article is everyone’s goal, because relating to a Thought Catalog article is irreversible proof that you are an interesting person.) Between the number and your relatable topic, you can craft a title like “The 13 types of 90′s One Hit Wonders,” or “4 Drinking Games to Play at Thanksgiving” or “The Six Reasons that I will Pretend to Lose your Number After you Take your Penis out of Me.”
- Get freaky. Approach your topic in the least approachable way possible. Don’t talk about sex, talk about uncomfortable lesbian sex with multiple strangers while your parakeet is watching and you’re thinking about Jackson Pollock. Don’t write about family, write about that one time when you were seven and your older brother pushed you down the stairs, and how it is a metaphor for the misogyny that characterized most of your childhood. Don’t write about music as much as you’re writing about the first moment you realized you didn’t remember the last time you really felt happy, sitting on the old schoolbus on a snowy day in suburban Michigan, and how Green Day was playing on your iPod Mini, and a single tear rolled down your cheek (a tear which you quickly concealed, lest your sixteen year old girlfriend stop fondling you over your pants). Go off the map. Impress everyone with how offbeat (read: fucking weird) you are.
- Relive your darkest moment. Find a way to work the absolute nadir of your life into “Six kinds of Pop Songs and What They Mean About Your Horoscope.” Manage to talk about that one time that you were sitting on the kitchen floor, naked, sobbing to your cat about every single ex-lover you have ever had, and how that one Sagittarius played Ke$ha in the car one time, and that’s when you should have known that you would have to break his heart over under-toasted bagels eight days later. For maximum effect, write this in the second person.
- Back up. It’s all good. For a moment, drop your sincere tone and go straight into hypersarcasm. You are the essence of levity. Drop in very current cultural markers until you sound like one of those kids in Juno #youthlexicon. Refer to twitter. Say something self-deprecating. You’re not bothered by your troubling past/present at all, dude. #whatever.
- End with some bold statement that you won’t ever explain.
The thing is I actually really enjoy Thought Catalog. I’m just bitter that my particular brand of weirdness isn’t sincere enough, and the nadir of my emotional wellbeing might have been when they cut me from the 7th grade lacrosse team. Let’s all share the darkest places we’ve ever been! It will save you time in therapy later?!