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Why, As A Writer, I’m Done With Writing Clickbait

being a writer onlineThought Catalog

A little while ago, I got lost in the “list phenomenon” – you know – the articles that aren’t really articles; the ones where they list the Top 10 greatest hair trends you SHOULD be trying or hey! Here are ten signs that tell you he’s not a fuckboy, but IS actually into you.

Yeah, those.

A couple years ago, that was me, plugging away at trending topics centered on listicles and the top ten ways to tell you’re in a relationship with a boy who’s for keeps. I used to write about politics – much to the dismay of loyal viewers – and about what I thought about feminism and wondering whatever happened to MTV’s “Rock the Vote” (PSA: If you don’t know what that is, you’re way too young to be reading this). I got trapped in the cycle of writing about what would bring in the most clicks to my poorly – albeit – trashy and minimally effort filled words.

In so many words, I became lazy with my words.

Long were the days when I wrote about what it felt like sitting on boring blind date, after boring blind date, and how terrified I was about getting into a relationship. I forgot about the days when I wrote about how it felt to have someone’s hands wrapped around my neck, or how I really missed living at home and having the security of my mom making me chicken soup when I came down with a cold….in August. I stopped writing about my fears of infertility and putting into words that morning when my fiancé and I went out to celebrate his mother’s birthday just two days after I found out I may not be able to carry a child full term and waltzed right into a baby shower for a woman who was just shy of my own age. I wrote about me running to the bathroom stall in tears and waiting ten minutes to compose myself to ensure I didn’t walk out with runny eyes or puffy cheeks and didn’t even give attention to the idea that they all probably thought I was taking a massive shit for ten whole minutes before grabbing a napkin to wipe my face when I came back to the table.

I lost that kind of writing because, well, honestly, that’s not what really sells anymore. People don’t care to read about real experiences as much as they want to nit-pick what outfit Kim Kardashian chose to wear that day. Publications don’t want to publish articles about victims of domestic violence, or sexual abuse, or those who are living with PTSD because it’s not as glamourous as breaking down the demise of Chris Pratt and Anna Farris’ marriage and trying to understand what went wrong to such a happy couple…that none of us even know outside tabloids and thirty second interviews. Writing about infertility and hating the fact that the same weekend you found out you may never be able to have a child on your own is the SAME weekend your ex who never wanted kids just announced his new wife is expecting and you came to realize that he did want kids – just not with you.

Those kinds of articles don’t sell despite how common all these emotions tragically are. People don’t want to read about experiences that will make them think about their own lives – so that’s why we talk about everyone else’s. We talk about what they wore, and we slut shame, and we hate on people we’ve never even met – and on the writers who devote the time to write about them because they have no other choice but to do so.

Just like sex sells, so do tabloids and sadly, the written word is becoming less “written” and more clickbait.


Truthfully speaking, I’m done with writing about that.
I’m done with picking up my pen and figuring out which celebrity name I should type fourteen times in my article just so I can get the highest number of clicks and traffic to my page when someone just so happens to google the name I’m trying to highlight. I don’t want to write that way.

I don’t want to write what somebody else wants to hear; I want to write what I want to hear because guess what? I wish I would have read somebody’s words when I was going through a struggle I felt too ashamed to share with the outside world.

I wanted to read about another twenty-something who experienced abuse that way I knew when I was rocking back and forth, feeling panicked, with my head in between my knees, and fear rising up through me like a pop rocket, that I knew a trigger was a normal part of the process – and a normal part that would eventually heal. I wish I’d read about another twenty-something who found out that she may never be able to carry a child to full term because that news was scary. It was terrifying being twenty-four and finding out at an age when children was a definite in my near future that I have a 70% chance of miscarriage in my second and third trimesters after I’ve painted the nursery, and found out what I was having, and perhaps picked a name, and worst of all, fell head over heels in love with proof of it growing inside me only for it to be yanked away from me like some twisted dream.

It’s a sad day when an article about the Kardashian clan, an article with zero substance, and zero heart and focused on a family that people literally only like to hate – can somehow be more viral than true experiences from real women who face every day struggles that unfortunately, we don’t get to share with the millions simply by posting a picture of our face on social media.

But, maybe it’d be great if we could get a start. TC mark

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