By Lissette Maduro

The art of creative writing entertains while sharing the human experience. It strives to expose humanity’s truths through storytelling. It is a form of self-expression that is neither technical nor academic and it can benefit the writer’s emotional well-being.

Getting started on a creative writing project can be daunting. Finding a topic you’re interested in exploring may be challenging, especially if it has been covered ad nauseam. It’s also tough at times to come up with an original subject matter that will wow an audience. So what do you do when you’re up against the proverbial writer’s block wall? How about a headline-writing routine for inspiration?

The Headline Routine

Drawing on the idea of newspaper-style headlines, the routine is a method for summarizing and capturing the heart of a concept, event, topic, or idea. It helps students focus on the core of the matter being examined or discussed. The routine considers one crucial question: If you were to write a headline for the topic or issue being evaluated right now, what captures the most important aspect?

Secondarily, the question can be asked: how have your ideas about that important and central aspect changed over time? Consider how your headline differs or has changed based on what you discussed the day before.

The Importance of a Good Headline

Readers decide almost instantaneously if something is worth reading. An effective headline attracts and engages readers, while a lack-luster headline will likely lose their interest. The headline is the writer’s first and sometimes only chance to make an impression.

The headline is crucial to any piece of writing. An engaging headline promises the reader that their time will be well spent, that they may learn something or be entertained. If a good headline is lacking, the rest may not be read, or worse will be read with little interest or engagement. Your story, and by extension, all your hard work and effort will quickly fade into obscurity.

Thinking in Headlines

Similar to creative writing, the goal of a headline is to lure readers into reading the article. There are a few key elements in coming up with an impactful headline that can lend themselves to creative writing.

One such key element is determining the language used. Words that are uninspiring, dull, or obscure can alienate readers. Instead, using language that is simple and powerful–for example, calls-to-action or power words like “never”–will likely draw them in.

Incorporating a shock factor in your headline typically ensures that people will be attracted to the work presented. Making a bold, opinionated, or controversial assertion will spice up a headline and grab the attention of your readers.

Studying a competitor’s tactics on headline-grabbing and using it to improve headline writing is another good strategy for improving your own skills. Asking weird questions or creating a so-called curiosity gap are other features of a headline that grabs attention. A reader’s instinct is to “discover” the answer.

There’s an art to instilling a sense of urgency or intrigue in a headline that will capture the reader’s attention. Divulging just enough information to entice your readers to explore the main content is a great method for snaring their attention.

A final key element in headline writing is to brainstorm headline ideas and then get opinions on your top options. Typically an outlier will reveal itself. The principles of headline thinking are adaptable, transferable, and can give a boost to creative writing.

How Does Headline Thinking Boost your Creative Writing?

Headline writing will help you to focus on the core issues and summarise the heart of the matter, which can lead you to a unique stance on the subject. Exploring how your position on the subject changes with time can inspire a creative writer to pen a short story or a novel.

Understanding the importance of a good headline will help you come up with an interesting topic for a creative writing piece. Having to focus on a theme that will entice readers and keep them spellbound will boost your creative writer’s imagination.

In addition, thinking in headlines can lead to a controversial or bold topic that may engage readers and set the writer on a path of intrigue that will pique a reader’s curiosity and lure them in.

Studying other authors’ techniques for creating a sensational or thought-provoking piece can inspire you and hone your creative writing skills in storytelling. Getting the opinion of fellow writers may provide a unique perspective that will charm an audience and put you on track to your next best-seller.

Creative writing, though a pleasurable and insightful pastime, can at times become stagnant and ordinary. At times it may take some unconventional methods to get back your writing mojo. Applying the headline thinking strategies can be an inventive and effective approach to reinvigorate your enthusiasm for writing.


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