How to Write A Joel Stein Column

Cute tagline.

Tell a story about yourself. Follow with a random experience or encounter that will make the reader wonder, “Am I still reading TIME?” Try to tell a joke. Fail to tell a joke. Quirky transition. Manage to be both self-deprecating and haughtily superior. Call in the “experts”. This is a good time to remind readers that you know the “experts”. The experts are celebrities. You’re cool now.

State an opinion. This is the only opinion. Attempt at a one-liner. More opinion. Thinly veiled pining for the days of your youth. Attempt to conceal this with disdain for the youth. “My [lovely] wife [Cassandra]”. Another try at a joke. End with a one-liner that is meant to be both funny and resonate with readers.

Sit back.

You’ve done your best.

Why Don’t Teenagers Slow Dance Anymore – Joel Stein

Beyond the Policy Memo

Beyond the basic research papers and personal narratives, “writing” encompasses an infinite number of styles and genres, all with their own conventions, strengths, and weaknesses. If I could, I would be adept at every kind of writing, but this is a largely impractical goal. However, there are a couple forms of writing that I am interested in learning how to write. These vary from policy memos to humor, both of which I believe can use similar information but communicate completely different things and, of course, target very different audiences.

As a student interested in policy, a policy memo is the natural choice for a venue I want to work with. It’s a way to concisely communicate the policies you believe in and the reasons for why you believe your choice is the best one available. Hopefully, the future will see me writing successful memos on the issues that matter.

But as much as writing a policy memo would be an incredible skill set that directly correlates to my future career, what I would really love to write is political comedy. Something within the realms of Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart appeals to me as a way to be political but entertaining. As someone who values humor (but is unable to successfully execute a joke), being able to write something gripping and educational while still being wildly hilarious is a skill I would treasure. There is one incredible article that just rips into England’s monarchy (that I won’t post here, as it is ridiculously inappropriate) and it is just so funny, but it also has a point and it’s saying something about us a society and what we value. That’s the kind of commentary that I would love to write.