Posts in The writing process

The ten rules of writing fiction

There’s an old Guardian article I’ve used a few times when giving talks on the craft of writing. It was called The Ten Rules of Writing Fiction. The Guardian asked a whole load of famous novelists for their advice, and then printed each novelist’s top ten rules. When I first read it, it made a lot of sense. But then I rearranged the piece a little, and started to see a strange pattern. See if you can spot it… Roddy Doyle says to “Fill pages as quickly as possible –… Read More

A bit of nonsense

I was struggling with my writing this morning, and somehow ended up procrastinating by changing all of the words in the first paragraph of my novel A Virtual Love to the first option that came up on Word’s thesaurus function. This was the result: The timepiece marked noisily cutting-edge the still obverse area. We observed on him, consequently that we didn’t must toward appearance on all additional. The pointers of the timepiece remained altogether that enthused, separately after certain well atoms of powder whirling cutting-edge the motionless, sincere mid-air. I… Read More

Catching up

It was good being away from the internet for a while. Not only did I enjoy the extra time exploring Crete and spending time with Genie, but I also had some pleasant surprises when I got back. Instead of watching obsessively for things to happen, I stepped back as things I’d put in motion before I left England continued by themselves. First, a short story I’d sent off months ago in the February snows was accepted for publication in Volume II of Spark: A Creative Anthology. The story’s based on the King’s Cross… Read More

Some interviews

I’ve been interviewed on a few book blogs lately, talking about my new novel A Virtual Love, and also my writing in general. If you’re interested, here are the links: Manchester book blogger The Workshy Fop asked me about the political dimensions of the book, and about my views on blogging and internet culture Ghanaian-born, South African-based book blogger Geosi did a wide-ranging interview on the book, my early career, what I learned from being a journalist, and whether I regret giving up a lucrative corporate banking career Fellow writer Maria… Read More

Ian McEwan’s early writing influences

Ian McEwan was interviewed in his university magazine this month, talking about his early influences and how he became a writer. Since it’s an interesting story, and some of you may possibly not have seen the latest copy of Falmer: The University of Sussex Magazine, I thought I’d summarise it here. Failure and disappointment The most interesting part, to me, is that the career of such an illustrious writer began with failure and disappointment. In fact, the failure and disappointment turned out to be crucial in his development as a… Read More

Beauty? No, thanks

As a side note to my post last week on the cafes I have killed, I wanted to add one more thing about writing locations. It struck me that in a country with so much beauty, I  have latched onto the ugliest locations in which to do my writing. It seems that beauty doesn’t really work for me, at least while I’m writing. It’s wonderful to look at, wonderful to get inspiration from, but it seems I prefer to get that inspiration before I sit down to write. When I’m… Read More

The cafe killer

I have a confession to make. I’m a natural born killer. Don’t worry – I don’t kill people, or even butterflies. I kill cafes. All I have to do is pick a place to do my writing, go there fairly regularly, and it’ll be closed before the year is out. I’ve even killed a café in Barbados, and I’ve only been here since last December. Here is a partial list of London cafés I have killed: Pick More Daisies (Crouch End) Figo’s Cafe (Crouch End) Messy Mug (Crouch End) Dudley’s Pancake… Read More

The importance of staring out of the window

What does a writing day consist of? The image that comes to mind is of someone pounding away on a typewriter with a fixed, manic expression, surrounded by a mess of coffee and cigarettes and balled up sheets of paper. The reality, in my experience, is somewhat different. First, here’s what Martin Amis had to say about it in a recent interview on Goodreads: Being alone in my study is working, whatever I’m doing, even if I’m just throwing darts into the wall. It’s communing with your conscious mind and hoping… Read More

How not to return from vacation

Coming back from vacation is always hard. If you’re working for someone else, you don’t really have a choice – you just have to turn up to work, and gradually you accustom yourself to the work routine again. But if you’re doing something like writing, which requires motivation from within rather than outside, it’s more complicated. The funny thing is, I know what works. I just don’t always do it. Update: this post has been featured at the Third Sunday Blog Carnival I recently took a month off from writing… Read More