I’ve never been good at naming things. The usernames I’ve created for myself on Twitter and Instagram are basic but straightforward. They’re a shortened version of my name and what I do: write. Simple and to the point.
Could they be any more creative? Yes, yes they could. However, that would require more time and effort on my part and I wasn’t interested in that. But with a book title, I would need to put more time and effort into deciding what it’ll be called. You can’t half-ass a title of a book.
So, I spent days wracking my brain on what I would be titling my essay collection. I wonder what name would catch people’s attention, but not feel out of place in the genre. Hours and hours worth of thinking and I came up with…nothing.
I did however come to the conclusion that it’s a good thing I don’t have children because they would end up being nameless. Given how bad I was with coming up with names. Because I was struggling, I looked for inspiration. I looked at other essay collection names. I looked at books in the genre. That’s where I started to see a trend.
Many recent books are being named from social media jargon or slang. It’s a cute and quirky thing. The jargon is eye-catching and instantly recognizable to a particular crowd. I knew that picking a popular phrase and working it with the content of my book might finally bring me to my title. Now I just needed a phrase…
I thought about all the social media slang words and phrases I knew. I’m Gen Z and I’m active on Twitter, so I’m familiar with a bunch. Though not nearly all of them. But one of the first that came to my mind was: living in your head rent free. The phrase is usually used as an insult. A person who lives inside your head rent free is when you can’t stop thinking about someone even if you rather not.
It’s an insult because the person living in your head has power or control over you. To admit you can stop thinking about them means you’re letting a person infiltrate your head. You’re letting them get to you, get under your skin. I always liked it as an insult. It’s funny to think someone demanding that much power over someone else. I like the phrase even better when I knew how to spin it for my book.
Pop culture lives inside my head. It demands my attention. It has a certain level of control over me. It infiltrates my thoughts at some point every day. It lives rent free in my head. Living Rent Free in My Head: Essays on Pop Culture. And just like that, I had a title.
I don’t know if this is a method that will work for everyone. But it’s definitely an idea to explore. When it comes to naming your book, you need to take the center focus of it. Whether that be the main character, relationship, theme, setting, or something else. Take the most important element of your story and hone in on it. Use it to create an interesting and creative title. It doesn’t have to be long or short. It just has to make sense for the story you’ve written.