By the time you read this, the title of this post will likely have changed at least a half-dozen times. That’s not unusual for me as the process of coming up with titles for my posts generally follows a pattern consisting of:
- Quick note in a Google Doc that’s meant to just kind of remind me of an idea I had for something to write about
- Let it sit there for a few weeks as I deal with more timely things first, glancing at it and trying to remember what my damn point was
- Write a couple paragraphs of the post under the title because it’s fine, right?
- No, it’s not fine. Let’s cut it from eight to three words
- Well that seems like I’m trying to be overly clever, so take it back to the original
- No one will get this
- Hmmm…maybe I should straight up optimize it for search
- Hahahahaha no that’s lame and come on
- Something self-effacing?
- OK, that works
- Change it in WordPress just before publishing, usually back to something similar to my initial thought-starter note, because I panic
Does anyone else struggle with titles more than anything else about writing? I know there are all kinds of tips and tricks on how to make your headlines and post titles pop, but honestly they seem always seem to me like a recipe to make them as bland and unextraordinary as humanly possible.
Titles should be representative of not just the material appearing under them but also the writer themselves, at least when it comes to personal publishing. The whole point of this self-publishing movement was to bring more identifiable and interesting personalities into the conversation, not create a system where everyone adhered to the same framework to the point you couldn’t tell one blog from another. That’s what media was doing and we were supposed to be different.
Coming up with a title may be the most difficult aspect of writing for me, but the good news is that if I’m still needing to struggle through that it means I’m still writing, which is a good thing.
So forgive me if the titles to my posts seem off or non-ideal. There’s a lot of thought that goes into them, it’s just not all of that is super-productive.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.