Ain’t wastin’ time no more (how I came up with a name for this blog)

July 31, 2018

How to name a blog

I’ve gone through blog names like my kids go through gummy fruit snacks. One of my weaknesses as a writer is while I might be able to compose a blog post or magazine article somewhere between adequately good and tear-inducing-life-affirming excellence, titles have always been my struggle.

“What do you want to call it,” an editor will sometimes ask me after I’ve submitted a draft, and I act like Chuck Knoblauch, Rick Ankiel, or any other baseball player trying to throw with the yips. Look up “baseball yips” and it’ll become clear.

I’ve pulled from the cliché bin and once named a blog “By Dave Pidgeon,” which is a rite of passage for every writer to do, to name their blog or Twitter handle after their byline. I tried using a tagline for a blog name, recently calling this space “Creatively Genuine” to infer I had some kind of magical prowess in the nonfiction genre before I’ve ever even published a book.

Naming a blog ranks among the most important decisions you make when you actually start a blog.

Midlife, writing life, writer, what to name a blog,
Standing in the afternoon of my life.

Darren Rowse from Problogger discusses here why and all the factors which go into choosing a name. There are a lot, but it really does come down to what the blog’s about and also the tone. You might be reading a blog on your phone or a desktop computer, but when you enter, how does the author want you to feel?

Months ago, I sat down to make a list of all the possible names I wanted for this blog. I was done with “Creatively Genuine” because the pretentiousness of it clung to me like sand on wet skin.

Thinking about names was like standing in the spot in the western United States where four states come together at one point. You can choose to go explore Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona or Utah, and each one beckons you with a different experience.

And so I asked: Who am I?

The answer led to the name of this blog, Writing in the Afternoon.

Sure, the name invokes pleasant images of laptops opened at a window-side table in a coffeeshop or journaling in the shade of a pin oak in the countryside, and I’m not going to wave those images away. But that’s not why I chose Writing in the Afternoon.

Again, I asked who I was, and I meant it as a serious examination:

  • I’m almost 40 years old
  • Father to two young children
  • Husband to a wife who owns a successful business
  • I’ve been a journalist for 17 years
  • Mostly on-again-off-again for the last five
  • I’ve yet to achieve my most ambitious writing goals

Waking up every day means living in the afternoon of my life. It’s 1 or 2 p.m., and there’s a lot of daylight left to achieve goals and ambitions. Who doesn’t love a productive, sunny afternoon? But it isn’t morning any more, and we’re slowly but surely getting on toward evening.

I’m a writer in the afternoon of my life. On balance, it’s a beautiful and warm hour – the sun’s reaching its zenith, and with sunglasses on it’s time to go outside and enjoy grass beneath bare feet or the refreshing coolness of a leap into a body of water or the freshness of a slow breeze through an open window. It’s also a time in the work day when you better get started before you waste another hour.

The name Writing in the Afternoon percolated for a few days, but the more it did, the better it seemed. The name felt positive and inviting, could be applied to any environment a reader may find himself or herself, set an appropriate tone, serves as a reminder of what I’ve yet to accomplish.

Maybe I’m not so bad at this title game after all.

How did you come up with your blog name? What insights do you have for people starting blogs, websites, Instagram accounts, or wherever a writer needs a name/brand? Leave them in the comments, and I’d love to share them.

Dave Pidgeon is a freelance magazine journalist and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. Contact him at dave@writingintheafternoon.com

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