“People now feel time accelerating. Lists allow them to feel some sense of accomplishment.” – David Viscott
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love lists. Love love love them. I think it’s something about being able to categorize items, no matter what they are. It places them in nice neat little boxes that I can package up and place nice bows on. That’s also why I’m such a playlist fanatic, figuring out exactly where to place each song for maximum effect. It’s why I created a Top 5 on Fridays. And it’s why I downloaded the ColorNote app for my phone (believe me, I color-code just about everything). Even Most Wanted lists are interesting. Check them out at your local post office. But what makes a good list?
1. A solid premise
I mean, honestly, who wants to read a list of your favorite Teletubbies? Or a listing of every fear you have about going to the dentist? I’ve seen lists of just about anything under the sun, but I only read the ones that have a solid premise, ones that interest me because of its subject matter, not just because it’s a list.
2. A manageable number
Absolutely no one wants to read the top 300 ways to clean your kitchen. Not only does that have a horrible premise, but it also goes way overboard. I personally think that a manageable number is 5-20. Anything after that is pretty much reaching, and it generally turns me off. That’s why when people get into the whole 100 best albums of all time I just skip to the top 20 and leave it at that.
3. Quality explanations
Maybe I’m just old-school, but I feel like a good list does more than just list. It also explains the motivations and reasonings for each placement. Even a list of your favorite types of trees benefits from the personal touch of you explaining that the oak tree is number three because its smell reminds you of the forest behind your house when you were growing up. The only exceptions, in my opinion would be to-do lists, and even then, sometimes explanations are warranted there as well.
If a list has all three of these qualities, then it should be a wonderful list, as far as lists go. And when you create a list for your blog, remember that these lists are your opinion. A list is a good conversation starter because everyone has their own ideas of what should go on a particular list. Be open to other’s ideas. Maybe Alice in Chains isn’t their number one grunge band. Let them explain why, and you can agree to disagree, but don’t shut down all conversation just because you are so attached to Soundgarden as your number one.
That’s why we’re all different. A list with the same criteria made by six different people will yield six different lists. And that’s wonderful. Imagine how boring the world would be if we all made the same lists! Happy listing!