The last man on Earth sat alone in a room…

“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.”

How’s that for a first line? (Or maybe two lines, as there’s a full stop in-between).

It conjures up a lot of questions and it had me, for one, wanting to read on.
Who is this man?
What happened to everyone else?
Is he the last man on the earth, or the last actual person?
Etc.

When it comes to writing anything that you want someone to read it’s important to hook them in, from either the headline or the first line. It seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?

But then, you’d be surprised how few people actually put it into practice.

‘On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.’ (Copyblogger)

Ask a question, inspire thought – do something that will make the reader want to continue.

Because, once you’ve written than opening line, every other word you write is, in itself, a reason to get your audience to read the next word.

If you’re interested in where that quote came from at the start, it’s been taken from the short story ‘Knock’ – written by Fredric Brown.

It was based on the following short segment of text, which was written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

“Imagine all human beings swept off the face of the earth, excepting one man. Imagine this man in some vast city, Tripoli or Paris. Imagine him on the third or fourth day of his solitude sitting in a house and hearing a ring at the door-bell!

Class dismissed.

The Top Shelf of the Library

I didn’t write today, because I couldn’t find the right story to start on.

I always feel that the fictional storyteller’s mind is a library of ideas and plots, many of these are easy to access and get a hold of. But, usually the ideas that you really want to pursue and start to write about are the hardest ones to find.

By that I mean, to again use the library analogy, they’ll often be on the top shelf. You can see them from a distance, and can make out a bit about them, but you need to get closer to them.  So, you’ll spend ages looking around for a ladder or maybe you’ll clumsily try and climb up the shelves until you reach the top.

Then, after using all that time to try and get a proper hold of the idea, you’ll be so distracted that all the time that you’d made to write will have floated away.

I’ve always been an ideas guy. Even as a kid I’d be more interested in sketching out my own comics and stories than I would reading them. I guess there are two types of people – those who walk out of a cinema and think; “man, that was a great film!” – and those who walk out of a cinema and think; “that was an awesome film, but I reckon I could do better”.

Creative consumers and creative do-ers.

I’ve always been the latter.

I can’t remember the last time a day went by where I didn’t have a story in the back of mind that I wanted to tell. Whether it be simple, or more complex. Sadly, without a computer (or at the very least) a notepad permanently taped to my hands the creative flow can’t always be tapped at the best time. Life has a habit of getting in the way, doesn’t it?

I wonder how often, in the whole history of the world and everything ever, truly great masterpieces have fallen to the wayside because the potential authors just weren’t able to organise their mental libraries in time to grab the bull by its horns and get some words down on some paper.

Motivation for an idea can be lost so quickly.

Why do they always come to you when you’re just about to drift into the land of nod, or when you’re out and miles away from your desk?
But, here’s a Sunday night vow…I will be better, and I’ll avoid excuses and organise my gems when necessary.

Because becoming the greatest writer who ever did live isn’t going to come about without a blood, sweat & tears.

New York Times Bestsellers List here I come…

Procrastination…the doom of a cyber generation.

When many bloggers or cyber writers tackle a theme they start off by pasting the dictionary definition of their topic…why!? Do they think their audience is too silly to know what the word means? Did they not know what it meant themselves? Or, are they just using it as a springboard to help their lazy ass get a creative flow going? My apologies, to quote many a millennial…’rant over’. Let’s get on with the blog post…

Procrastination
prə(ʊ)ˌkrastɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n/

noun

  1. the action of delaying or postponing something.
    “your first tip is to avoid procrastination”

In case you’ve not guessed this one is about procrastination, and for as long as I’ve tried to write creatively procrastination has been the main reason why I’ve not been writing. It’s such an easy thing to do, and an easy trap to fall into…I’ll sit there at my desk, ready to launch a full blown verbal assault on a blank word document, and then suddenly I’ll start to wonder what year Die Hard was released or what happened to an old footballer I used to like once he’d retired, or perhaps I’ll start to wonder how long it would take to fly to Mars in a rocket.

And thus that catalyst for procrastination ‘Google’ will open and away my hours will wile, access to information is great…but it sure as hell can shut the doorway of productivity at times.

Asides from maintaining focus, there’s not really a known cure for procrastination is there? Very few doctors seem to be trained in dealing with it, and listening to TED talks about it only further exacerbates the issue in the first place.

I guess it says a lot for how advanced the human mind is now that we have enough time for such a level of reflection that it can take us away from the present so easily. I mean back in the day, when cavemen and women danced across the far corners of the Earth, I’m pretty sure procrastination must have been nigh on impossible.

The fear of a T-Rex making me into a candlelit dinner for one would certainly keep my ass in check and stop me from googling the full cast and crew of an episode of ‘Friends’ to see if the bit part actor I thought I saw was actually in it!

But yet, as our lives and the worlds around us become more and more complicated, the more scope there is for delaying what you want to do.

So, today I didn’t write because I was procrastinating and, after thinking about cooking dinner for ages, decided to alert the nearest pizza merchant of my hunger and ask them to deliver their product forthwith.

I guess the secret to stop procrastination and maximise productivity would be to make sure I find the right project. One that I simply can’t put down, one that keeps me awake with flowing words until the wee hours. Mind abuzz with ideas.

But…finding that project…that’s the challenge.