4. Getting an agent

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Getting an agent – or in my case, getting lucky: No bones about it, I’m a lucky b@$!@rd. A while back my family and I moved from West London to Kent in search of, like so many before us, the parent’s Holy Grail – an acceptable primary school with a catchment area more than a literal stone’s throw. My better-half met other mums, made friends and joined a reading group (one that actually consumes books as well as dry white wine). Purely by chance one of the other well-read mums turned out to be the better-half to a literary agent who happened...

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3. Getting finished

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Getting finished – and why that’s just the start: Starting may be a matter of compulsion, but finishing can be a slog. I can’t seem to help darting off and writing the exciting bits while they’re forming in my head, including the opening and dénouement, and then have to laboriously fill in all the bits in between. But whatever your approach, you still have to get the words down. It takes time. There are no short cuts. Thinking about the whole thing can be daunting. I broke it down into small bits. Like this. Every 1000 words that fell out of...

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2. Getting the hump

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Getting the hump – and getting over it: Whether you’re the kind who meticulously plots the whole book before writing it or, like me, jumps right in and only tries plotting things when the panic sets in, you’re going to get stuck. I saw Ian Rankin on TV talking about how he always grinds to a halt around page 70. For me it’s more random. I’ve tried sleeping on it, lying awake worrying about it, forgetting about it all on a mountain-bike ride, eating cake, daydreaming about it when I should really be listening to what the person opposite is...

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1. Getting Started

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Getting Started – And missing my first deadline in fine writer’s tradition: It might’ve been bubbling away in me for a while without me really noticing but the most definitive beginning I can point to is around 2004. A BBC writing competition invited submission for a 264-word description of planet Earth for the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to replace the previous entry – ‘Mostly Harmless’. I wasn’t a writer but loved the HGTTG radio series and this was too tempting to resist. I wrote my entry, enjoyed myself so much I wrote a second, then...

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