13/07/2015 16:52 BST | Updated 13/07/2016 06:59 BST

My Bad Tips and Good Tips for Successful Story Writing

Wrenching it on to the page can be a challenge if you're burdened with any of the following:

Next door is building a bathroom

Next door has finished the bathroom and has moved on to decking

Or hoovering


One's daughter is back from Thailand and wanting to share about her inner meaning, before she goes off again shortly and informs you that her time is of the essence - and what if (God forbid) she came to a sticky end at the Burning Man Festival and you hadn't spent time talking to her about the meaning of life, or managed to warn her off a drippy looking man in muslin trousers who does 'man workshops' that you had been allowed to see a pic of? You would probably die of guilt.

If you just write dialogue

You just write narrative

You just write crap

Other peoples books are out which make your own book feel as old as Kingsley Amis who

at least had the cachet of being xenophobic which is at least topical. You hate the tyranny of having to spellcheck due to the strictures of other people anility.

Your therapist is in a meeting. Your hypnotist has double booked her room and expects you to wait in a room full of patients seeing osteopaths and who may be moaning quietly in pain. Or staring at you. These are all bad things.

BUT if you are free of the above - here are the criteria for successful story writing:

You have a VERY SIMPLE idea

You have an AUTHENTIC narrative VOICE

You have GOOD JOKES that FIT

You are UNINHIBITED about farting and sex

You like your life

YOU like your backside which is being expanded due to repetitive sitting injury because it is a literary war wound and you can wear it with pride under a pashmina

You have a fly spray that can reach from sitting position

You like Muriel Spark

You have a secret drawer of diet pills that can give you that extra edge to stop you lying down and watching Four in a Bed when nothing happens

You have friends who are also authors who plug your book in a woman's magazine even

though their book is on the same subject (this may not happen).

By the by - every now and then, someone actually recognises how brilliant you are. No really... so here's a shot - I'm judging a creative writing competition with Jojo Moyes, Sandra Parsons and Lauren Child for The Henley Literary Festival and Dragonfly Tea. On top of the prestige you can win up to £2,500.

Find out more at:

Helen Lederer's book Losing It is out now and is nominated for The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic literature 2015 and the Edinburgh Book Festival First Book Award 2015