In my chequered past I was an actress. An early and indelible lesson I learned was about stage presence: if you sidle on to the stage looking as if you have no right to be there, uncertain of what to do with your hands, you’re doomed from the start. You would do better to follow Laurence Olivier’s advice – zigzag on, find your light, sweep your eyes once round the dress circle and begin. In this way you will take possession of the space and ensure that everybody’s focus is fixed on you.

The same is true with writing. If your work is hesitant or imprecise (using too many adjectives and adverbs), if it isn’t sufficiently edited, or if the construction is weak, you won’t command attention. Command is the operative word here, because to write well you need to write with authority, which derives from confidence, which in turn comes from investing a good deal of time and thought into your craft until you are certain of what you are doing. Practice makes perfect, it really does.

To have a presence as a writer, to dominate the page, you need a strong and distinctive voice. You can only develop this by writing copiously and editing endlessly. Oh yes, and by reading. You should read with passionate eclecticism, leaving no page unturned.

Better get started then.