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Writing tips: how to write a novel – or eight – and enjoy it

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When should you write?  How can you find time to complete a novel – or two, or eight?  Do writing targets – eg two hours per day – help?  My schedule.

Someone the other day asked me: ‘when do you write?  And what are you working on now?’


Here is a snapshot.

First, I have a full-time job.  It’s a fine job and I’m privileged to have it.  It keeps me busy most days from around 8.30, when I start work, until around 18.45.  My job also requires me to be out a lot in the evenings.

So I concentrate my writing on weekends and free evenings.  My aim is to do an average of two hours of writing every day.  This is an ambitious target; but I have met it most months this year (2020).  I’m generous to myself on what counts as writing – eg this blog, research or meeting another author as well as physically putting pen to paper.

This target-driven approach works for me.  Mostly I work in the evenings between about 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.  At the weekends I sometimes write for 4-6 hours in a day.  Many nights and some weekends, of course, I don’t write at all.

Writing projects at the moment include:

  1. My dystopic novel, Coronatime.  What will happen after Coronavirus?  Coronatime is one of my favourite novels, and one I hope could become a cult hit – a cross between Cloud Atlas and A Handmaid’s Tale.
  2. My Hotel Stories.  I write one of these every year as a birthday gift to my partner, who is a hotel general manager.  So far I have published nine – a tenth is on the way.
  3. Promoting my Berlin thriller Blood Summit.  This is quite a success but, like anything else, needs marketing support.  I enjoy doing readings and writing about it.
  4. Running this web-site.  Setting it up was a steep learning curve – I was much helped early on by the wonderful Stephanie Muzall, and am now planning a revamp with the help of the excellent Dylan Cripps.  Watch this space.  The biggest danger with a blog is obsessing over how many hits you’re getting – I try not to look more than once every fifteen seconds, but it’s tough.
  5. A trilogy of comic novels I hope to publish after 2021.  The first two are written; the third is at the planning stage.  Again, watch this space.
  6.  My new thriller Palladium, set in Turkey.  The novel is complete; but my first efforts to market it have met with mixed success.  A rewrite may be needed.
  7. My back catalogue of novels and short stories.  In addition to those mentioned, I have written three other novels.  They include:
  • A Killing in Sevastopol, a thriller I wrote in 2012 about tensions between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea.  Possibly the most prescient thriller ever – or the biggest missed opportunity.  Or both.  Killing is a prequel to Palladium – see above
  • The Skip Outside the Lenin Museum, a thriller set in 1990s Moscow – a prequel to A Killing in Sevastopol, featuring some of the same characters.
  • Holiday Period: a prequel to Coronatime, set a few hundred years earlier.

“Coronatime” – coming soon: watch this space!

I also have some fine short stories, waiting for a home.  

That’s it.  It’s demanding.  It’s a joy.  It’s writing, and it’s a passion.  Comments welcome.

P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, feel free to friend me on Facebook or sign up for e-mail updates (top right – see the “click here” blue button).  Check out the range of writing on this site via the sitemap and guide.

P.P.S. This is a much-revised version of a post originally published in 2015.

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