A big part of successful writing is the ability to capture your audience’s attention. If you are a fiction writer, you want your story to seep into your readers’ thoughts so they are glued to page after page. If you write nonfiction, you want your topic to be one that hits home with your audience. If you are a copywriter, you want your headlines and buzzwords to draw the viewer in and get them to act.
In today’s world where 350,000 tweets are sent every minute, the battle for someone’s attention is more crowded than the line to jump off the Cam Newton bandwagon.
I recently learned of one person who knew how to win this battle for attention — Welsh physician and psychiatrist Robert Armstrong-Jones. In 1920, Armstrong-Jones penned a report about a medical condition in which a person hears loud imagined noises when falling asleep or waking up. Armstrong-Jones could have called this disorder something like “Imagined Noise Disease” or “Sensory Sleep Sickness” or even something like “You Can’t Take Naps Because You Hear Fake A Hubub Affliction.”
Instead, he called it “Exploding Head Syndrome.”
Exploding Head Syndrome? Really? For a condition where your head does not actually explode?
But I will tell you one thing…it got my attention.
I am the type of person who can’t spend too much time on WebMD because I start to fear that I have everything from lower back pain to irritable bowl syndrome. That being said, if I were to see a listing for something called “Imagined Noise Disease” I may not even blink an eye.
But Exploding Head Syndrome…that would make me stop, collaborate, and listen. And then call my doctor. After all, I think I can remember a time or two when I woke up to a loud noise.
Armstrong-Jones knew this condition afflicted many people. He listened to their comments about how they would wake up when it felt like bombs were exploding in their head. He wanted to make a difference and he knew how to get people attention.
Pretty amazing what three vivid words can do.