I have seen Lee Child, Britain’s most successful writer of thrillers, interviewed on stage a few times, and there is usually a barrage of questions from the audience about the nuts and bolts of his writing routine, from what time does he start to what brand of haemorrhoid cushion does he use. All are disguised variants of the question “How on earth do you do it?”, which as often as not really means “How on earth can I do it?”

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