As I continue muddling through my writing degree, I often think about how many words I’ve typed on this computer. The number is most likely astounding and hard to comprehend, much like the current national debt, and to be honest I’ve probably forgotten most of the content. What tends to stick are the titles. I’m not talking about the generic assignment headings, but the real honest to God titles that I’ve sat and thought about.
I tend to be a post completion titler. I like knowing exactly where I’ve been and how I completed the journey before I decide to name it, but there are a few occasions when the title can inspire a piece of work. Here are a few tips I use when brainstorming a title.
1. BE PATIENT
First, don’t try to title something the instant you’ve finished. You’ll probably be brain dead and name it something stupid. Wait an hour, a day, or the amount of time it takes for the caffeine to hit your system. This way you are approaching your masterful work with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
2. DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED
If it’s one of the rare occasions you find you have such a kick-ass title that you have to build a story around don’t get too attached. This process is like a relationship and you don’t want to commit to anything too early. Sure you should jot it down, remember it, take it out to dinner, but write about whatever comes organically. Don’t force your writing to match the title. Once you’ve finished maybe you’ll find that title is perfect, but maybe it isn’t and now you have all your options open.
3. WRITE IT OUT
Get a pencil and paper and write down what ever comes to your brain. I’m talking everything. Silly, stupid, made-up words, anything and everything. The phrase you least expect may be the perfect match. Now when I said a paper and pencil, I’m serious. While I dearly love my macbook, there is something about the process of writing in my own hand that triggers another part of my brain. I doodle around it, draw arrows connecting or linking words. I viciously underline to make a point, until finally I’ve found a title that looks good on paper.
4. SAY IT OUT LOUD
Now read it out loud. Preferably while your home alone, or in your room by yourself, somewhere you don’t look like a raving lunatic for shouting a random phrase. If it sounds good, say it again, and if it still sounds good you’ve got yourself a title.
Oh, and here’s another helpful tip. Stay away from puns. It may seem clever at the time, but later you’ll look back on it and wonder what you were thinking.