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How to lose friends, write books and ignore people

  1. Put on your ‘writing jumper’. It’s oversized, woolly and you found it behind the dressing gowns at Scope. Forget that it still smells of a gouty pensioner. Breathe. Feel powerful. You are ready to begin.
  2. Coffee
  3. Have a shot of hot water if you drool any of the grounds.
  4. Limber up: Look about your room and create luminous, poetic similes. The widow shines like a pair of shiny glasses in the glassy sun. The can of coke is crepuscular, like an isotope of beryllium. The sunrise was bloody, like a road traffic victim. The road traffic victim is flat, like a bad simile.
  5. Reread yesterday’s work. Eat / snort another coffee. Know that life is dark, hopeless and devoid of all meaning. Tape cotton wool over all the sharp edges in the vicinity of your desk and lock all windows above the ground floor.
  6. Ha ha ha! Look! What’s a pig doing on a surfboard?! Look at it wobble about! Remove Facebook from your bookmarks.
  7. Decide on style of section break, * * * too cliché. Maybe a lozenge ◊, maybe that nameless fleuron §. Wait, was there something about the * * * thing that I didn’t fully appreciate the first-time round?
  8. Ask a friend to read your first chapter and provide feedback. Explain that yes, you appreciate that they’re a full-time carer, and yes, if your mum had multiple sclerosis it would be devastating too, but none of that changes the fact that your deadline is approaching and it will only take nine hours and she won’t know if you don’t wash her once.
  9. Email your agent. Explain how the industry doesn’t understand you, go into detail. Remind them of how many genres you are, right now, defying. Explain about that woman who wrote about the boy wizard and how many times she was rejected by publishers. Tell them you are almost exactly like her, but with significantly less wizards in your work.
  10. Apologise to your agent for your behaviour. Blame gin. Tell her alcoholism will add a frisson to your biog.
  11. Because nature writing is selling well right now, add badgers.
  12. Go online and book a ticket to a reading by a published author. Watch them closely, pinpoint their smugness. Know that you could be that smug too.
  13. Creative sparks not flying? Go for a walk. Do not come home until you have a clear head and have been suitably inspired. Also: pack supplies, say goodbye to close relatives, get a vaccination for Japanese encephalitis.
  14. Make your writing sensory. What did the wind taste like?
  15. Remember that listicle you were going to write for your blog? No better time than the present.
  16. Write 1000 decent, effortless words. Chortle to yourself. Stroke your face. Go to high five yourself… whoa! too slow! Sleep soundly. Wake up. Sniff the writing jumper, smell it, smell the scent of slow death. Begin again.

books, humour, listicles, writing life