Stumbling through life, one day at a time

Untitled (get it? ha)

I mentioned in my first post that I have loved to write ever since I was little, but obviously over the years I’ve improved ( I won’t use the word significantly; that’s down to personal opinion) in most aspects of writing. I’ve definitely not improved in all aspects though; my imagination at the age of 7 was far better than my imagination now (my stories about flying cats and how chocolate and vodka (!) are made were much better than some of the unimaginative drivel I’ve produced recently), and I was also more confident in showing my writing to people (for example, the vodka story was a big hit back in the day, but the aforementioned drivel is for my poor eyes only). However, the thing that I have always struggled with, and still struggle with to this day, is coming up with a good title.

Now, I know what you’re thinking (or maybe you’re not, sorry about that, but please keep reading), ‘but how do you know what you’re writing about without a title?’ or ‘that’s the most important part!’ but for me it’s one of the most difficult aspects of the writing process. I prefer to set out the plot and write quite a lot, if not all, of the story before deciding on what it should be called. That way the title fits the story and not the other way round. When I decide on a title first I feel restricted and like I have to make whatever I’m writing fit in with it. In a way, I find that quite scary because some of the greatest sentences I could ever come up with could be missed out by writing that way. Sometimes I wish I found it easier but I guess everyone has their own way of doing things.

I’ll give you a few examples of how terrible I am at thinking of titles. The two stories I mentioned in the first paragraph were given the very original and witty titles of ‘cat angels’ and ‘how chocolate and vodka came into being’ respectively. As well as that I have numerous files on my laptop entitled ‘article (title undecided)’, or ‘story one’ or ‘story one alternative’ or ‘blog post (title undecided)’ or ‘short story’, you get the idea. Also, some of my best titles have been thought of by my English teachers or one of my family members. At school I often handed in a piece of creative writing with a very brilliant title not thought of by me and taken all the credit. I feel like a fraud, and I hope some of you fellow writers can find it in your hearts to forgive me? I promise I’ll practise and who knows, maybe one day I can write a story the conventional way, starting with the title!

Here's a screenshot of one of my writing folders as proof :)

Here’s a screenshot of one of my writing folders as proof 🙂

Anyway, does anyone else find titles difficult? I’d love to find someone else who doesn’t think it’s important that they come first. If not titles, what else does everyone find difficult about the writing process?

11 thoughts on “Untitled (get it? ha)”

  • “I prefer to set out the plot and write quite a lot, if not all, of the story before deciding on what it should be called. That way the title fits the story and not the other way round.”

    I do it that way, too, most of the time. Often, though, I’ll write a title down that I’m not at all planning to keep, just to keep me on subject.

    Then when I write a title, I don’t try to go for a cognitive idea always, but more for the feeling or mood of the thing.

    Like the title of that last paragraph would be, “The Cognitive Mood.”

    If the title doesn’t make sense, I figure that’s better because it sparks curiosity.

    But I buy organic deep fried pork rinds, so consider the source. (Sorry, that was part of a piece of humor I tried to write last night. Humor is dangerous. A guy my age could break a hip.)

  • The title is always the last thing I write. That said, very often I find myself coming up with a range of title ideas as I go, but I change them numerous times. It’s not usually until the end (sometimes days later) that a good title comes to me. I also like to spark a little curiosity in my titles, however, I do find this challenging. Titles are hard!

    • Yeah, I always come up with a load of titles at the end but I always think they sound so ridiculous. They are so hard!

  • Wow, the file names in my “Drafts” folder are remarkably similar to yours 😉 Titles are definitely a tough spot for me, I always feel as though the ones I come up with just don’t precisely capture that specific, core meaning I’m writing about!

    I’m not sure if it may help you someday, if at all, but this one fantastic English professor of mine once advised me (only in a desperate, last-resort scenario) to title my works with the word or string of words that sounded perfect in my head when I wrote it/them–that one snippet of writing that I felt so proud and clever for thinking of when I first thought it and seamed it into the greater work.

    I hope you and I both find our ways out of the “asdfghjkl” pit in the future!

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