5 reasons why lists can be a form of writing, and can be useful


A couple of days ago, I had come across a post by an author who’d written about ‘10 reasons why making a list is not writing.’ To sum up his views in a line, he believes that a list is an easy escape route for the video game generation, and that it discourages a reader from actually reading.

Being a writer myself, while I agree that it can’t, by any means, be compared to literary writing or to the passion and effort taken to come up with even a 500-word piece, I do beg to disagree with the generalisation of his views. So, here’s my list of five reasons why making a list can, in fact, be a form of writing, and can be useful too.

1. What you want is ultimately the same: Whether you’re an author writing a mind boggling crime thriller, a blogger plotting a clever twist in a 500-word tale or a ‘list-writer’ sharing some guidelines, your end objective is to capture a reader’s attention till the last letter of the last word.


2. It gets someone who’s never read a book to develop (remotely, at least) a reading habit: Even if every single word in the list has been dumbed down to an easy-to-understand language, is simple, straightforward and requires no effort on the reader’s part, if it captured the readers’ attention for a few minutes, it has at least sparked a reading habit in them. If that continues, you never know, their interest in reading might grow and someday they might be spotted in a park bench burying their nose into an Ayn Rand or a Jane Austen.


3. You can’t complain about a bunch of list-writers telling you what you should do when there are self-help authors who write an entire book about How to be not just cool, but Awesome, or How to Twitter your way to better life, or well, How to write a how to write book.


4. On the contrary, certain topics bode well with lists and can be used as a reference point for further research or for leads; like 10 useful Windows commands you should know, or 10 drugs to carry when you’re on a road trip (at least this can be a reference point before you head to the Chemist’s), or 10 do’s and don’ts when on a tour to China (P.S. Did you know that gifting a clock is a sign of attending a funeral, and gifting a book is like delivering defeat?)

5. It’s not easy. It took me an entire hour and careful consideration (ironically, as the author put it too) to make this list. So don’t undermine the effort.

Lastly, you have a choice. You don’t have to read everything that’s on the web. If lists don’t go down well with you, ignore them.


4 responses »

  1. In a digital age, where all of us are consuming enormous amount of data, it gets difficult to read so much to actually process what the author intends to say.

    I love lists. It appeals to people. Atleast, to me. And, that’s the same reason, medium and several other content publishing websites thrive today. 🙂


  2. Hi. Thanks for responding to my original essay about lists on Brevity. I’m glad you gave this issue a lot of thought. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written … but I still don’t like lists. Cheers.


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