I do not suffer from writer’s block, but I do find it difficult to get back into writing a novel if I have had to leave it for a while. My way of writing involves being completely engrossed in the story. It depends very much on being inspired by the characters and the story itself rather than some predetermined plan. The longer I remain estrange from the story, the more I tend to doubt both the story I am telling and my capacity to tell it. I have recently discovered that being able to plunge back in a novel I am writing is largely a question of attention. If I wake up in the morning with the words of a new speech for the local council on my lips because the evening before I was mulling over some political conundrum, or I get lost in searching for pictures for Pinterest or reading the latest news on my iPad, these will effectively keep the story at a distance. Or listening to the radio or an exciting audiobook in the kitchen can have the same effect. There are so many things in modern life that clamour for our attention, all of them hard to resist. There’s an immediacy and an ease in the pleasure these activities procure that blot out what seems like an unrewarding struggle with pages that have gone ‘cold’. The solution lies in placing distraction just out of reach. If I print out and carry around the latest pages from my novel so that I can deliberately read through them rather than giving in to distraction, I find I pick up the traces of my story and can soon see where they are leading me. The more I do so, the more the story and the novel shift to the forefront, the more satisfaction I get from writing and the greater my confidence in both the story and my ability to write it.