3 abr. 2008

How to Be Boring

Choose to write about something that holds no interest for you. If you are bored, chances are you will be able to bore your readers very easily.

(If you insist on writing about something you care about, make sure to adopt an approach in which your personal interest does not reveal itself.

Make sure extrinsic motivations are foremost in your mind: passing the course, getting tenure. Intrinsic motivations are a sure way of introducing some degree of interest into your writing. Make sure you convey the message to your reader that you are only going through the motions, fulfilling your obligations.)

Make sure to use "a significant contribution to the field," if writing a book review. For a cultural studies article, "Can it be a coincidence that...?" Formulaic phrases like those reassure your readers that you have no desire to be overly engaging.

Make sure the argument is a very slight variation on the prevalent kind of arguments made in your field. It is not easy to be boring: you will have to do some research to see what kind of arguments are least objectionable. Your aim is to slip under the radar.

Avoid expressing your ideas directly and concisely, in your own critical voice. Your aim is to make your writing indistinguishable from the scholarly norm. You want your reader to skim over the article just to make sure it conforms to certain conventions. You wouldn't want to put in anything that would make the reader slow down and start engaging with the ideas themselves. Your ideal reader is not someone who will actually read, but someone who will cite some bland, unobjectionable phrase in his or her own article, after a rapid skim.