Martin Amis's Rules for Writers

Write in long-hand: when you scratch out a word, it still exists there on the page. On the computer, when you delete a word it disappears forever. This is important because usually your first instinct is the right one.

Use any anxiety you have about your writing — or your life — as fuel: “Ambition and anxiety: that’s the writer’s life.”

Never say “sci-fi.” You’ll enrage purists. Call it SF.

Don’t dumb down: always write for your top five percent of readers.

Never pun your title, simpler is usually better: Lolita turns out to be a great title; couldn’t be simpler.

Watch out for words that repeat too often.

Don’t start a paragraph with the same word as previous one. That goes doubly for sentences.

Stay in the tense.

Inspect your “hads” to see if you really need them.

Never use “amongst.” “Among.” Never use “whilst.” Anyone who uses “whilst” is subliterate.

Try not to write sentences that absolutely anyone could write.

You write the book you want to read. That’s my rule.

You have to have a huge appetite for solitude.