If you want to sell copy, sell a list.
Try this: do a Google search for things everyone should know. On the first page of results, you’ll find lists of 10, 20, 50, and 100 things everyone should know. Writers are happy to make extravagant claims on our time. And we let them do it, because if you don’t read this list, you’re in grave danger of not knowing the 10, 20, 50 or 100 things that everyone should know.
Needless to say, you don’t know most of those things, and you never will.
The urge to complete checklists is so strong that simply unrolling a long list in front of someone can induce panic. Have you ever experienced Netflix queue stress, Tivo tension, or bookstore anxiety? There’s this absurd thought: Look at all those books I have to read! Try this search: books you must read. Now how do you feel?
Jay Czarnecki saw what I wrote last week about marking things to read later. It’s easy to put too much food on your plate at the Internet Buffet, telling yourself you’ll certainly read it later. But you won’t, and the great bromide is this: That’s Okay. Jay was kind enough to send along this essay on the melancholy pleasure of Not Being Able To Do Everything: The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything. Don’t have time to read it? That’s okay. Here’s the big idea: If you don’t have time to read it, that’s okay. Reading everything doesn’t make sense anyway. The letters get all mashed together.
As for the one thing you shouldn’t do… don’t do this search: places to go before you die. You don’t need to go to all those places. I absolve you.