Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 reasons to ignore posts about 10 reasons to do anything

I'm an info junky. I feel if I delete an email from Publishers Weekly, Writer's Digest or any of fifty agents, writers and editors, that I'll fall behind. I read pretty darn fast, but at the end of the day, I still feel like I've run a marathon and still only came in 50th out of 75.

So when bloggers started doing their Friday lists, I got excited. If I missed their mid-week posts, I could still read a concentrated dose of material at the end of the business week. Then some of them turned into frenzied addicts, posting lists of up to 50 links to other articles. I envisioned them like me, afraid to hit delete or not forward it to someone, so throughout the week they just harbored them on a list until they could hit send to their readership on Friday and feel fulfilled.

This past Friday, however, I'd had enough. I opened two emails. One literally had 60 links to writing articles. Another had 45 ways to blog.  Tips from 23 authors. 10 ways to never not be marketing. Seriously? I had to read that one three times to get it. Top 20 motivation hacks. The negativity of that one enabled me to delete it without guilt.

So here are 10 reasons to ignore people who write about 10 reasons to do anything:

 1. If you don't need that list of ten today, delete it. Internet fanatics like us tend to hoard links and articles, and usually don't return to them because they're too busy hoarding newer links. If you can use it now, fine. Otherwise, skip it.

2. Unless the list is the most unique topic you've ever heard, delete it. Bloggers regurgitate each other's lists, altering a word here and there to be "unique." Bloggers run out of material, and this is how they find it.

3. If the top three on the list don't blow you away, hit delete. The rest will be much worse.

4. If the post leads with 500 words of copy before reaching the list, move on. They promised a list.  List = concise.

5. If each item needs a hundred words of explanation, it's no longer a list. Items should pop.

6. Look at the source. The Top 10 Young Adult Novels of 2010 means nothing coming from a non-expert.

7. What is the goldmine or take-away value? The info should merit posting on your bulletin board.

8. Opinion without fact. A spattering of opinion is personality. A glut of it is boring.

9. Fact without opinion. Google gives me all the pure facts I need. Tell me why I should care.

10. You think a list is light reading. Yes, it's shorter, but it still commands your full attention to be best understood and implemented.

When writing lists,  make sure they are sharp and spot on. Otherwise, write narrative. A blog post with short paragraphs actually can make better points than sloppy, hollow lists.


Sioux Roslawski said...

And of course, this list was not one I deleted right away without reading.

You're right. Too often, posting lists is a way to fill up space.

Linda O'Connell said...

Well said. Your top ten list tells it like it is. You tread where others fear to tip toe. Thanks.

Unknown said...

This is pretty much the best Top 10 list in the history of the internet. Thanks! :)

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hi Hope, I subscribe to everything I can in Google reader. I then open that each morning (only ONCE/day) and scan the headlines as I would do with the newspaper. If the headline does not strike me, the blog post does not get read. There is no way I can read everything and so if you don't have a catchy headline, I'm not going to take the time to open it. That's a good lesson for me on my own blog to come up with appealing titles on my posts. Some blogs only take subscriptions through feedburner with an email address. For that, I use a designated email address that only receives newsletters. That way I can scan the headlines there, too. Try it. You might just feel like you ran a 5K instead.

L.E. said...


Guilty as charged.

I am such a link hoarder.

I try to sit down at least once a week and go through all the stuff I've hoarded over the last few days and decide if any of it is useful to me.. but as you've said, much of it turns out to be regurgitated.

I seriously need to work on getting better ways to sift through it all.


Karen Lange said...

I subscribe to a lot of blogs, newsletters, and other mailings, and for a while, I tried to keep up. But I can't and actually stay productive with my writing. Once I realized this, it took the pressure off. For the most part, I stick to my favorites.

I also like to keep all this in mind for my blog - the biggest goal, besides good content of course, is to be short and sweet.

Thanks for the advice.

D.G. Hudson said...

Some people just like lists, and will create them out of any subject.

I learned a couple of years ago to be ruthless in deleting email and removing subscriptions for sites that don't deliver. Sites come and go, peak and fall, but we only have so much time in a day.

Short lists are okay sometimes in a blog post if the writer has specific purpose, but just collecting facts - doesn't appeal to me. I like to see the writers personality come through in the post (at least a little).

widdershins said...

Bloggers run out of material? !!! Now you tell me! Oh the horror of it all.