Okay, so you want to write for Thought Catalog. Great! Wanting to write is half the battle! Of course, lots of things are half the battle. Not wanting to write is also half the battle. Let’s not win the battle and lose the war here.

1. Embrace your relationship with lists.

You’re going to have to get over any childhood trauma involving cataloging. It doesn’t matter if your mom forced you to list your favorite toys just so she could burn numbers one through five, and leave you with only number 38, that fucked up doll you inherited from you sister—start making some goddamned lists. Ideally, make them in the 3-100 range. Shoot for some key numbers like 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 50, 69, or 100. If you want to be edgy you can do an odd number like 57 or 33, but don’t get too cute with it.

2. Choose a topic.

Bright red lipstick on a woman's mouth 

Look deep within yourself or the internet for some inspiration. Pick something personal to you, or something inventive.

Nothing, huh?

How about something topical or controversial instead?

Race! Now that’s a hot button issue.

But why limit yourself? Best to paint with broad strokes.

Gender! That’s the stuff.

Now you can be assured that your writing will reach the hearts, minds, egos, and tumblrs of at least 50% of the population. Maybe more if you do your job right.

3. Fill out your list.

You have your topic, now get ready to stretch it far beyond its scope. A good rule of thumb is that only 1/3 of the list really needs to respond to your theme. The longer the list the more leeway you have. Reach for marginal points or things that are tangentially related. Split a single item into two similar items to beef up your catalog (see #1). Add a funny but unrelated point to distract people, a picture of a cat, or an inappropriate Vine.

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Don’t think too hard about how to order your list; it doesn’t matter. If worse comes to worst, don’t sweat it. You can always become a staff writer for Jezebel.

4. Give your work a title.

This one is more important than it might seem.

Most of the people who are going to want to read your piece won’t even bother. You shouldn’t mind, though. You’re in it for the clicks. All you have to do is lead them to your bait. Or better yet, drag them screaming. Think of your piece as a radiator, the reader as someone you kidnapped, and your title as the chains to bind them.

Use simple, visceral, and gripping words to grab people’s attention, like sex, drugs, farts, turnt, EDM, fails, hentai, John Mayer, etc. Employ adjectives that heighten the sense of expectation and add some mystery to your list, like wild, unbelievable, _______-blowing, unfortunate, uncommon, reprehensible, millenial, tripadelic, sucky.

If all goes according to plan you’ll have a title people will be too horrified to look away from, like "13 Insane Ways the Birth Orgasm is Better Than Any Human Penis," or "50 Helpful Suggestions My Dad Gave Me About Suicide."

5. Come to terms with people hating you.

You’ve really done it this time. You got your work published. Congratulations. Now brace yourself for the ignominy.

In all likelihood your work was so offensive, disgusting, and/or stupid that your reputation and dignity are going to take a significant hit. Be prepared to lose some friends, perhaps even a family member or a household pet. Expect complete strangers to avoid your gaze and hiss at you. Don’t be surprised if you find a subreddit dedicated to deriding and harassing you. Settle in for the long haul because this could haunt you for the rest of your life.

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You should be okay, though. I mean, they’re just haters, right?

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