The Guardian asked a cluster of well-known authors for their tricks of the trade. Some of their answers may surprise you.
Take a long walk. Don't be intimidated by Nabokov. Have fun. Don't have children. Prayer might work.
These are among the trenchant bits of advice collected when The Guardian surveyed more than 20 noted writers (including Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Ian Rankin, and P.D. James) and asked them for their personal rules of writing.
Some of the advice offered in the Guardian is strictly practical. Margaret Atwood recommends taking two pencils on an airplane (pens leak and one pencil might break). Geoff Dyer advises against writing in public places – even Parisian cafes. P.D. James – who recently devoted a whole book, "Talking About Detective Fiction," to an analysis of her craft – counsels increasing one's vocabulary. ("We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world," she declares. "Respect it.")