Alain de Botton

How did you become a writer? I wanted to experience the pleasure of systematically working out what I thought and laying down my ideas for other people to read. I liked the calm that came from expressing, rather than just feeling things.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.). I was influenced by the tradition of essayistic writing. In this category, there is Montaigne, Stendhal, Virginia Woolf, Roland Barthes. I was also influenced by the photographer Sophie Calle, who mixes text and image.

When and where do you write? I write in a little rented room in North London, near my home. I also write in bed, late at night.

What are you working on now? I am writing a novel about marriage.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Most days there are periods when I cannot write. Writing frightens me.

What’s your advice to new writers? Never ever become a writer. Go into management consultancy instead.