8 Things I Discovered in 8 months of writing listicles

So the year was drawing to a close and the new one was dawning and all I wanted to do was to bring a Big change in my life without it sounding like a Resolution list, because, you know, only 6% of people are able to keep their resolutions by month 4 ( I seriously don’t know what happens when that year draws to a close).

Apart from the usuals of exercising more and eating healthier and going ballistic in my career and earning potential and being kind-more to myself, I also wanted to write more. And I knew that the first few months of the year were going to be busy. So I started a list of blog ideas which brought up my dormant desire of writing list based articles. I pledged to do just that and started with Friday Listicles. It meant that I had decided to do atleast one post per week till the time I could pick up the pieces of my life and write more meaningful stuff.

I have been posting a listicle every Friday, barring one, of this year. And that one Friday when I did not post was the one week my readers heaved a sigh of relief for being spared the torture.

I started off the listicle series by talking of what they are, how I love them and how they are hated by many. After a few months of writing them, I found out that…

1. You can get lazy when you write Listicles. After all, most of the structuring has been done for you. You only need to think of a title and like a magician be able to procure points upon points related to the topic. You could do a 23 point list, with nothing to show for the points and you could do a Top 3 list, where the content takes precedence over the number.

Some weeks I was lazy, admittedly and other weeks I wrote well-thought out lists with pertinent points. The choice is yours. You can let the list get you lazy or you can focus better on the content because you don’t need to take care of the structure.

2. The endings of the lists are important too. Most often I would list out the few points of whatever I was talking about and just close the post at the last point. Through some feedback and through some intelligent reading of my own posts, I realised that the listicles needed an ending as much as a long form article does. Wrapping it up well in the end is good for the reader and good for the one writing it.

3. Listicles really are quick. Quick to peruse and quick to write. Did I really want my readers to glance and skim and leave? The better way was to keep the subheads introductory and yet not revealing everything. Through building a little intrigue I was able to hold interest (hopefully) and found that people did read the Listicles to the end.

4. But no, lists and by extension, Listicles are not dumb. I covered a little of it in point 1 and really one of the cardinal roles in writing a listicle is to not repeat yourself but I had to put it clearer. It is up to the writer to write meaningful, engaging, well researched content and elevate the form.

5. The number in the listicle heading counts. Yes, it counts because it is a number but saying ‘A few things that I found while travelling by train’ does not sound as enticing as ‘ 7 surprising things that you wish you knew about travelling in a train’. A good title counts and brings in more readers. It is not because of the number but the fact that the writer has chosen to show the unique viewpoint in the title itself.

6. Are odd numbers in the titles better than even? Frankly, I don’t know. Apparently, internet proclaims that an odd number in the title brings in more attention but to my mind it could be the equivalent of clickbait. So, let the content speak for itself rather than resorting to little gimmicks.

7. It is possible to show who you are through your listicle too. Often, it is complained that we cannot get the writer’s voice in the list but I have found that it is possible to set the tone in your listicle. It is possible to have a witty twist or a serious discussion , not at the same time of course and give the reader a glimpse of the person behind the listicle. The choice of the topic itself is a guess enough.

8. Writing a listicle need not be a sloppy job. It is not a list created out of random facts. The only lazy thing that you can allow a listicle to do is to create a structure for your article. You can write well, hold forth on anything with authority if you have researched the subject and write the in-depth articles and the high brow topics that you want to write.

A listicle need not be the bubble wrap of modern living; it could be the cushion that leads you to difficult topics gently.

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend.

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