How To Write A Book

1. For your first book, have no idea whatsoever until the very last minute, then sit down and write it effortlessly in three months (before, during and after work, and after your small child has gone to bed).  Do very few revisions. This book will be a bestseller. 2. For book two -- have a great idea, take nearly a year to write a first draft, show it proudly to your English and American editors, who will reject it out of hand, actively discouraging you from bothering to revise. Spend another year fixing it before anyone will agree to publish it or award it the Carnegie medal.

3. Book three will take a year or so, without giving too much trouble. The ending will prove stubborn, causing months of delay, but the rest will more or less flow.

4. Book four will be your worst yet, not coming together, remaining two-dimensional, requiring outside assistance and a great deal of head-banging -- until the day it snaps into full colour and just works.

5. Book five will be a complete nightmare, taking three years and threatening never to work. This book will inspire loathing and self-loathing in equal measure and convince you that you should never have started this stupid writing game.

6. Book six will not want to be started, until the moment you sit down to write it, at which point it will flow out more or less without problem. It will not impress early readers, but you will have faith in it, despite it being a mystery plot with a mystery that stubbornly refuses to resolve. You will revise it in thin layers that eventually add up to a satisfying story.

7. Book seven has not yet been started.  But will inevitably follow the simple formula laid out above.