I have always written. I composed my first (and my last) poem when I was six. It was about a stone with a hole. I was very proud of it, but quickly bored of poetry.

I then began filling red Silvine notebooks with stories of rabbits, princesses and other fairy tales to amuse my younger sisters.

And when I reached my dangerous teenage years I filled Collins’ diaries with line after line of angst. I destroyed them all, thank god.

I have made my living writing every day. As chief writer for the Edinburgh Evening News I started writing at 7.00 am and kept going until around 4.30 pm, five days a week. After three years, I was ready for a change.

I wrote for seven months while on my mid-life gap year. I enjoyed that.

I have even toyed with writing a novel. There is half of one lying in a cupboard somewhere. I no longer have it on a memory stick. I may go back to it one day, but I am not a novelist. Andy Nicoll, author and political hack is a novelist, a damn fine one too. I am a hack.

I need prompts to get my creative juices flowing. A column deadline. A last minute request for an article on…well anything really. I have an opinion on everything. And anything.

I am not creative. As I said, I am a hack. Which is why today I bought 642 Things To Write About, a “writing” journal penned by members of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto in a day.

It shows, some of the prompts are a bit trite, banal even. I am sure there are better ways to get my “creative juices flowing”, but as I said, I am a hack. This will do.

I have added a couple of my own rules. No post, here, or in the journal (such an American term) should be more than 400 words.  And I must try and complete one a week. Hardly an onerous deadline, though one I am sure I will miss, more than once.

And my first piece of homework…How your cat sees the world.

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