Contrary to popular quotes, it isn’t always sitting down at the typewriter and bleeding (Hemingway.) 

It seems timely for a blog about when writing gets tough, and I don’t mean losing your wi-fi connection and having to actually do some, but when the task appears to have been set by some vindictive boss you no longer have the contact details for.

Sometimes writing is a summer breeze on a stifling hot day, it’s oil on a bat, or sugar in tea, but sometimes it is hard work. This was unlikely to have been part of the plan when some younger version of yourself thought being a writer seemed appealing. The job spec. was all mid-distance gazes, dented typewriters in war zones and thoughtful drags on cigarettes, but it’s not. And of course there’s no one to blame, not even the Conservative party or Brexit. This is your own doing, and a predicament familiar to writers everywhere.

We all get stuck sometimes. Of course it’s always advisable to leave a scene as the bullet leaves the gun, but what if you just had to press on and leave the scene with the closed door. Now what? Does he fall down the stairs? Make a sandwich? Sometimes it’s best to just stare at the enomity of the task and weep. Or blog of course. Or do some research.

Research is difficult. No one really likes doing it. Those inclined only want to run the marathon alongside football mascots and people dressed as rhinos, they don’t want to do six months of training with no one watching. But like prepping for painting a room, and research, that’s the tough bit. I’m currently researching the historical novel, although how watching youtube clips of Jay Leno jacking off over a remodelled merlin v12 is a mystery the book is unlikely to solve.

If tough moments is something Sean Penn didn’t experience when writing his recent novel then his readers certainly will. That’s if there are any following the scathing reviews. I recently blogged about terrible novels, which Sean Penn clearly hasn’t read, although he does us a favour by giving his a pretentious title – Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff – that appears to have been constructed by choosing words at random. Penn has clearly not only failed to read my blog, or his own book, but also Stephen King’s marvellous book On Writing, in which he reminds us that ‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs.’

Apparently Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff  is worse than Morrissey’s List of the Lost, which is the sort of thing I’d love on the cover of my next novel, but suspect Penn not only takes his name far too literally, but also himself too seriously. I do wonder if he will be doing imminent talks in support of how there is no such thing as bad publicity. However, it is galling how actors think writing novels is so easy, and can then get their stinker published with the ease of leaning on a wall.

However, Penn has done the writing community (is there one?!) a favour. If you are writing with sentences and a readily understood vocabulary then your book is unlikely to be as unreadable as Penn’s. Now, where was I?


The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 –  is available here –

and here,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and on ebook here –