I wish that the title of this post was a clever and ironic enticement to get you to read a charming anecdotal story, but sadly it is the truth. Picking a title is actually my least favorite part of writing.
I’ve been blogging for a short while now and I am still the worst at coming up with titles for the pieces I write. Occasionally I get inspired towards one that is both decent and a good fit for the piece, but rarely am I truly satisfied with the ones I come up with. I never know what to call a piece I’m working on because my posts are by their nature sort of reflective either on something personal or a larger societal trend/event that I notice or have feelings about. It’s not the sort of stuff I find it easy to name, especially in a snappy way that draws people to read the post. Unfortunately, the topics I write about are also not as direct or explicit as “5 ways to lose 10 pounds” or “12 ways to get ahead at work.”
So to you writers out there, what is your process for coming up with titles for the piece you’re writing?
Any advice from people who are good at coming up titles, have been blogging for longer than I have, or have any advice whatsoever to get me past this extremely annoying hurdle is most appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
I admit openly to having a flair for the dramatic (you can’t justify owning the amount of scarves I own without attributing it to my artsy streak) but there are a lot of people like me in this world who call themselves writers. Yet there are so many people who make a bigger deal of it than it is. Heaven help you when you encounter a famous writer. I mean it’s really amazing when people resonate with something you wrote or connect with it in a special way. But you didn’t invent the wheel, you just wrote about it. (Perhaps eloquently, but still).
There is certainly a technique to writing, but overly inflated writers who talk about their craft and their struggles as they condescendingly share their secrets with us ordinary folk who aren’t as successful make me roll my eyes.
You should write when you have something to say. You should write when you’re trying to process something. You should write to chronicle your quest for answers. Your writing should be a reflection of who you are in your soul, the person that not everyone gets to see. You should write because you want to, not to change the world. Not to make money. Not to sell a million copies and become famous. (Although I wouldn’t argue with that as a nice side bonus of being a real writer!) I’m just saying there should be a distinction between people who write because they care about their audience and people who write because they want all the world to know their brilliance.
These days I wouldn’t even argue that a large audience denotes a talented writer (I know people with no discernable talent that still have millions of followers on Twitter) Writing should be something that you do for you, it’s a tool of the heart used to tell a story.
Because stories are perhaps the most perpetually binding aspect of the human experience, we are constantly surrounded by stories. When you write you are merely engaging in the unique revelation of something universal that you have observed about life, a glimpse of the truth revealed to you from the greatest Author of all.
While hanging out a group of friends recently, I had an extremely flattering experience. Somehow somebody mentioned my blog in passing and the other three people chimed in with their opinions and how they liked it. And I was flabbergasted (that word deserves a comeback and it captures the emotions of that moment perfectly) to the point where the friend who brought it up asked me “did you not think anyone actually read it?”
Partially. I mean, I see the stats confirming that my site gets traffic, but I still don’t think I’ll ever get over the shock that people beyond my supportive family would actually take the time to read my writing. But the thing that shocks me the most is also my absolute favorite thing about this blog: that the people who read it are the never the type you’d expect.
What I mean by that is, most blogs that have any sort of religious affiliation/religious words in the title only get read by people in that niche, people looking to read something explicitly religious or dealing with a political issue from a religious perspective, etc. But the majority of people who read my blog aren’t Catholic- and that’s awesome! I mean I’m always willing to share my faith because I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, but so much Catholic/Christian writing is geared towards other Catholic/Christian readers. That is not in itself a bad thing, but I see no reason for exclusivity. Because when I read Catholic/Christian writing it makes sense to me because I come from that background, but I worry that to the atheists and agnostics and people with no identifiable religion such pieces would look like Mandarin (i.e. another language), and they give up on it/become as discouraged as I would be if someone ever asked me to learn fluent Mandarin. (I picked Mandarin as an example specifically because I’ve heard that it’s difficult to master and is not a romance language so the same rules I’ve always followed when learning a language in the past would not apply).
So when I write my blog I get so excited when non-Catholics read it because learning a religion is a lot like learning a language in that before you can speak it confidently you must first learn to decipher what it means from a variety of sources, written text, verbal communication, in context of culture and community, and often in light of the ancient origins as well.
And I’m glad that even non-Catholics can come and enjoy what I’ve translated so far because with God each chapter somehow becomes better than the last. And the adventures I chronicle on this blog I am happy to share with whoever wants to wander the path along with me. Because I’ve always believed that time is our vessel, not our dwelling place and that the essence of true religion is simply a soul’s journey home. And the more that share the road with me the better the better the story becomes.