I hate titling my works. While I often begin a draft for a blog post with a title, I may edit the title more than I edit the post. My poems begin without titles. I get the words on the page, then I worry about a title.
Most of the time, I wish I could follow Dickinson’s example. I wouldn’t title anything. I’d use the first line of the poem or a blog post as the title. That strategy doesn’t work very well, especially in the online world. “I hate titling my works” could be a suitable blog title, but I would guess that most of my first lines would fail as titles. They might draw a reader into the first and subsequent paragraphs, but they would not attract attention in and of themselves.
The challenge becomes greater when the title is for a site or is for a slogan or tagline. Those titles have to have some weight to them. They can’t be too clever, but they can’t be too dull. They can’t be too long. They have to express the main idea and do so in fewer than ten words. They have to push a viewer to go deeper into the site. They have to have some sort of call to action or be so interesting that the viewer can’t help but to click on a particular link or to sign up for an e-letter.
All those concerns can weigh down a person. How can a person write a captivating title or tagline with all those anxieties running through one’s head? How can a person not become frustrated?
I’m not sure I have an answer. I do know I’ve been at that frustrated point. I’ve had to leave the work at the table. I then return and write some more. I write all the ideas – even the awful, terrible, no-good ones – down on paper. I let them sit on that paper for hours, perhaps days. In some cases, I turn to others for help. I reach my limits and need someone else’s perspective. I need someone to push me a bit more. I need someone who will let me vent my frustration then tell me to get back to work. The title will come. It may not be ingenious, but it will come.
Photo: Marvin Lee (CC BY 2.0)