Professor John Bennett responded to the recent Brainzooming long list blog post on 26 ways to leave a trail of genius. He wondered about why we write long list posts and how we expect readers will use them.

John’s question and the personal and student examples he shared deserved something more than a comment response, thus this blog.


3 Reasons Why We Write Long List Posts

Before sharing how we expect readers might use long lists, it is worthwhile to highlight why we write them based on both reader AND writer preferences:

  • Readers gravitate toward list posts. Every year, the most-visited Brainzooming posts are invariably filled with long lists. We've hypothesized previously about how a long list of possibilities gives readers a chance to find SOMETHING they can embrace and do.
  • A mega list challenges me personally to see if a subject stands up to use. Is the underlying concept productive enough to generate many possibilities or does it fizzle out quickly after just a few ideas?
  • Long list posts are SOMETIMES easier to write. The long list prompting John’s question was a spur of the moment idea to take advantage of potential writing time while sitting around during my mother-in-law's recent hospital stay.

There may be other reasons (because three reasons aren't very many), but let's leave it at that!

5 Ways Readers Might Use Mega List Posts

How do we recommend readers use mega list posts - at least ones on the Brainzooming blog?

Here are five ideas:

  • Readers can see if they are already doing some of the ideas. That can make them feel better about how smart / motivated / proactive they are.
  • If they aren't doing much about the list's subject, having many options provides plenty of possibilities to find one or two things to start doing.
  • Readers might discover the inspiration for new and even better ideas than the long list blog post contains.
  • They might realize the list’s core topic is one they should embrace as something important.
  • Readers could use a long list blog post as a checklist for changing things about themselves or what they do over time.

How Do You Use Long Lists in Blog Posts?

That's what I think you might be doing with long list blog posts. Is that anywhere close to reality?

If not, then WHAT ARE you doing with them? John and I would like to know! – Mike Brown

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