Dave Gorman cannot write. It is a strange affliction for a best-selling author, Bafta-winning scriptwriter and Perrier award-nominated comedian who has been trumpeted as 'the stand-up Bill Bryson'. But the 31-year-old found writing a novel so arduous that anything else, no matter how mundane or geekish, became infinitely preferable. Whereas many writers - the disciplined hard-working ambitious variety - churn out a few thousand words each morning before taking the kids to school, mowing the lawn and de-fleaing the dog, Gorman couldn't even get near his computer. He just spent hours cleaning the house and scouring the oven. When he finally got behind his desk, he found himself checking his e-mails 25 times an hour. 'Basically, Dave came to us and wanted to write some fiction,' says an Ebury Press spokesman. 'It was his idea. We knew he was a good writer, as he worked with us on Are You Dave Gorman? So we gave him the advance. We did not know what book he had in mind.' Trouble was, neither did Gorman. 'I wanted to write it. I really did,' Gorman tells fans on his website. 'But writing a novel is really hard work. Y'know with all the making-it-up and sitting-at-a-desk and stuff. I found it quite difficult. In fact, I found it impossible.' Bereft of inspiration, Gorman's thought he'd slid even further when a fan called him a Googlewhack. Rather than describing his literary lull, Gorman found that Googlewhacking was a new activity involving 'the purposeful searching of words, with the intent of drawing one, and only one, website that contains those words on the Google search engine'. Just type obscure words, usually deriving from opposite ends of the spectrum, such as science and sex, and you'll get one ... eventually. Gorman - being an obsessive, compulsive type - became addicted, and calls Googlewhacking 'one of the best ways of not writing a novel ever devised by man'. The planned work of fiction became, literally, a fiction. And the five-figure advance paid for him to travel around the world three times to meet the webmasters whose sites appear as Googlewhacks. The adventures that ensued, such as being licked all over by a Chinese performance artist, inspired a stand-up show, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, which brought in enough moolah to repay Ebury's advance for the novel. 'Dave would have breached his contract by not writing the planned book, something that does happen, though incredibly rarely,' Ebury's spokesman says. 'When he repaid us, we decided to buy the rights to Googlewacking, which had become a successful stage show by then, even selling out at the Sydney Opera House.' Why could Gorman write 'reality travel' books and not fiction? Because it didn't involve the tricky bit of actually making it up, Gorman tells fans. The book allowed him 'to explain all of the stuff that can't be squeezed into the show - like the woman who wrapped snakes round my head in LA, and the gun-toting millionaire who took me to Mexico to buy coke'. The book was a best-selling paperback in its first week - no hardback was released. The success left Gorman flabbergasted. Hmm, 'Gorman flabbergasted' throws up 209 hits on Google. Not bad for a beginner. Now, where's my dictionary?