'Tolstoy liked to go out with a scythe and work with the peasants in the fields. I'm not a nineteenth century Russian landowner, but I certainly find manual labour a more beneficial distraction than, say, googling the news every fifteen minutes.'
'I know there are far worse things than writer's block; a knowledge reinforced by the same terrible events that were causing mine. But that lengthy exile from the world of words not only halted my novel, it made the terrible thing itself so much harder to bear.'
'Dorothea Brande's Becoming A Writer is premised on the technique of automatic writing and the idea that the writer is essentially two people: the artist child and the adult critic. If either is allowed the upper hand, trouble will follow.'
'The disaster of Mum's dementia was aggravated by the death of a beloved dog, and a love affair that soured. Being placed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow was a joy, but overall, there was simply too much going wrong.'
'Our 'not up to much' has within it the seed of something useful, and a rewrite can lead to something not bad... It's the unrealistic expectation — if not outright fantasy — that we can write a dazzling first draft which keeps us inert.'
'I find my escape from words in photography, art galleries and museums, and music. By building or perceiving shapes that do not owe their existence to language, something happens.'
'At night, I meditate on the problem. I ask myself, what is the problem? Am I stuck because I have run out of ideas, or do my ideas not sound authentic and interesting?'
'The advice I often give myself when feeling blocked, is just to carry on writing. Squeeze it out. Even if it feels like horrible nonsense. Keep the momentum going and all will turn good again further down the road.'