Do I remember the moment when I started reading back when I was a kid? No. Do I remember the moment when I realized I had to read beyond the headline? Yes. Why do I remember that when in fact the earlier landmark seems more prime because of its importance in the journey of growing-up? Well for one, I can blame the bad headlines of most articles which were worth reading. Most content writers are wary of the dreadful effects of a bad headline. Yet, few try to analyze their headlines from the perspective of the reader, who dives into an article only after he/she has read the headline. I am one of them, we all are most of the times and I reckon the balance won’t ever change. Because in spite of global warming and rising sea levels, we shall never read an article unless the headline makes sense, intrigues us, or interests us, or unless we know the author.
We’ve all written essays in our life even if they were not by choice, be it as part of school curriculum or as the college thesis. I don’t think that such essays mandated special thought for the headline because those essays, in fact, originated from a topic at hand. For example, you have to write a report on ‘Effects of rice husk on properties of polyethylene’ – what better headline than the topic itself, no? Technically, these essays don’t need the headline that we are talking about. Really? Try running a search on ScienceDirect and you’ll realize that, as instinctive as it may seem, you’d go back to skimming-the-headline protocol before selecting an article to read. Agreed that technical headlines more or less relate to the articles’ content, but you know what I’m trying to say here?
Let’s come back to the articles which we are referring to in this particular post. The number of quality articles being published in a single day is enormous. You’d agree that it is not possible for you to skim through all those headlines, even if you consider only those articles worth reading. Unless you are a writer or a reader or an editor, you have a limited amount of time (per day) dedicated to pleasure reading. So, on an average, you are easily missing out on some really good articles just because those articles never went past your eye. What about those articles which went past your eye but you never cared to read them because of the bad headlines. So sad I say.
Content writers, and bloggers, are respectful people. Most of them are most often quality thinkers. We all are. But what is distinctive about these creative people is that they are so good at putting thoughts to words. They put in effort to juice the sense out of the thoughts. And, a lot of effort goes in writing, mind you. If you ask me, in addition to the effort spent on researching and writing, I have to spend an equal amount of effort, may be more, on steering my drive to sit down and write. And I am quite evidently a beginner level blogger! Blogging, seemingly so I realize now, requires patience. And very few of us are patient enough to sustain the levels of enthusiasm.
The difficulty in staying patient and focused arises majorly from the fact that as beginners, we are not sure what the standard levels of success exists. For example, the headline which you read for this article is the fourth version. From my perspective, I think I’ve given my best shot. But who knows, the headline I chose could be chosen for the worst headline of the year and probably even make it to collection of things-not-to-do when writing an article. Hah! So basically, it takes a while to set the headline expectations straight and develop one’s own style, a style that is satisfactory from the perspective of both the writer and the reader. I say satisfactory since I believe that better is what goes beyond satisfaction. So to become better, the minimum requirement is to at least be satisfactory in your own way.
What would help me become better at writing headlines? Well, God Google tells me there are many sources which I may refer to become better at drafting a good headline. One such quality link I came across is this. But there is one source which I think might just make me, or one of you, better at headlines. Twitter! Why? Well, I doubt that your headline is ever going to exceed 140 characters, and I assume the best headlines are those which are as concise as possible. So why not twitter to improve writing headlines! But that’s just a thought.
I don’t have any tips and tricks for the readers so that they can avoid missing those awesome articles. Such tips and tricks won’t really work since our instinct and a lack of 48-hour days is never going to change.
Guess, too much to write on such broad topics! Let’s end this with a quote by Seth Godin.
“To those who feel that they have no choice but to create, thank you.” – Seth Godin.