My 10 Writer’s Resolutions for 2015

On a home-alone New Year’s Eve, I find myself sternly noting resolutions to myself  for the creative year ahead (the personal resolutions can wait). Of course, they may not work for everyone…   Enjoy yourself at work. Even when it is deadly serious, writing should have a bit of skittishness and fun to it.   […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #7: Fear

It will catch any serious writer in the end: that familiar dread of the blank or page or screen as it stares back at you, daring you to give it  some words which, the blank page just knows, will be disappointing, or surprisingly weak, or in some way inferior to everything you have written before. […]

Remembering Paul Sidey

Some time in the early 1990s, the writer Willie Donaldson devoted his weekly column in the Independent to an account of how the editor who had commissioned him to write his memoirs was so desperate to get the book delivered that he had committed him to an addiction clinic run by mad Christians: ‘Paul Sidey […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #6: Confidence

It is an undeniable (and frankly rather unattractive) aspect of a writer’s character that it needs to be finely balanced between  arrogance and insecurity. Confidence is needed to write in the first place; a degree of self-doubt is necessary for what is written not to be preeningly complacent and indulgent. From Anthony Trollope to Caitlin […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules: #5 Block

Look at the first of these two rules, and you’ll see that nothing divides authorly opinion like writer’s block. Most of these insights are either self-pitying or briskly unsympathetic  –  successful writers seem to believe in tough love when dispensing advice – but there is one piece of caring practical advice. Surprisingly, that comes from […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #4: Research

Here’s a funny thing. Writers like to play down research. ‘Just live your life and use that as your material,’ seems to be the message. Even, ‘And don’t have too exciting a life while you’re at it.’ Here is a snapshot of the collective wisdom of writers considering this topic, with the number 10 rule […]

Some passing thoughts on…groping and the older man

The people’s philosopher, Alain de Botton, has been considering Rolf Harris and his wandering hands. In de Botton’s funny-yet-serious spoof of newspapers  The Philosophers’ Mail, he takes his customary rosy view of things. The Harris case and others like it, he argues, show that we are becoming kinder as a society. These are times of […]

Top Nine Writer’s Rules #3: Marriage

So far in this series of Top Nine Writer’s Rules, great and good authors have offered advice on matters which are fairly straightforward: starting a book, or how to get the inspiration to pick up the pen in the first place. That all changes this week. There seems little agreement as to the precise effect […]


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