Why I Don’t Write “How To” Articles
The fall semester is about to begin and along with expensive pens I will lose before the semester ends I will be purchasing my books for my classes. The hefty packages come swiftly from Amazon Prime and I usually stack them in a corner far away from me as I prepare for my courses. Needless to say, I do a lot of reading in grad school. After a year of being in my program it is interesting to see how my ability to read in quantity has improved, as well as my ability to detect quality writing. The required reading may be a huge pain but at least it is encouraging growth.
Because I have this blog and I am curious to check out what others are writing about, I often find myself lurking on other blogs in an effort to improve my own website. A disconcerting trend that I invariably run across quite frequently on the blogosphere is the overuse of the “how to” post. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ever read one or… twenty… As I troll the web, the counselor in me cannot help but cringe if I run across one of those “helpful” posts. The writer is probably trying to practically assist their reader; they most likely desire to see change and growth in others, but they are not doing much for their reader.
Unfortunately change does not come if you are trying to follow the advice of a “how to” article. I do not think I have ever clicked away from one of those posts feeling ready to make a change for myself, most of the time I just sigh and close that tab on my web browser. That type of post is fun and easy to read, the reader gets to browse through without actually needing to read the post and the writer usually gets quite a few hits, because from my experience they seem to be quite popular. People want an easy way to fix their abs or their dating habits or their loneliness.
But I do not think that the answer lies in reading through “5 Steps to [insert desired thing here]”. Most of us already know what we must do to change the thing that we dislike about ourselves. Usually it involves painful work, not a 10 minute read on the internet. You can easily read a “how to not feel lonely in five steps” post but that would never get to the root of why you feel lonely in the first place. And the steps that the article recommends may not even touch on what it is that is holding you back.
Change and development occur through a process, not after reading a “how to” post. The process looks different for everyone but I find that what works for me is a mixture of goal setting, accountability, commitment, and failure. Keep working at your combination, it takes time but it is worth it!