1. Check the words used in your novel exist in English. Examples of real words are ‘failure’ and ‘rejection’ and ‘heartbreak’.
  2. If using a keyboard, ensure your fingers are in contact with the keys. Many hours will be wasted if you forget this, time that may have been spent more profitably — reconnecting with schoolfriends on social media, for instance, or checking out Nicola’s new boyfriend with his car.
  3. Do not write about wizards or zombies, unless you have a unique take — a middle-aged and lonely zombie wizard, for instance.
  4. Do not write under the influence of alcohol. You will end up repeatedly describing the breasts of Nicola and what might have been. In excellent prose.
  5. Use all of the senses. Apart from touch. Readers do not like tactile imagery. (Neither did Nicola.)
  6. Find a quiet zone for contemplation. Examples include: the ocean, a tree-top, your 30th birthday.
  7. Do not read any fiction during the writing process. You don’t want reminding that Simon from your MFA got published.
  8. Do not use adverbs. An example of an adverb is ‘desperately’ as in ‘the writer desperately flicked through Tinder’.
  9. Don’t email Nicola the first chapter of your novel, describing the piece as ‘raw and honest’, and consequently spend the next hour writing a ‘Ten Rules for Writing Fiction’ Medium piece with your eyes constantly flicking to the top righthand corner of the laptop’s screen to check for inbox notifications.
  10. As in all areas of life, get used to rejection.