When should you write? How can you find time for writing a book – or two, or eight? Do writing targets – eg two hours per day – help?
Someone the other day asked me: ‘when do you write? And are you writing a book right now?’
Here is a snapshot.
I have a full-time job
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.
Using targets for writing a book
So I concentrate my writing on weekends and free evenings. My aim is to write for an average of two hours every day. This is an ambitious target; but I often meet it. How? Because I’m generous to myself on what counts as writing. For example, I include writing 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 a book is possible for anyone – if you really want to
If you really really want to do anything, you can always find time for it. For example: most parents, before they have children, have rich, fulfilling lives. When they have their first baby they miraculously find many hours every day to care for that baby. Of course they do! Their lives are fuller than ever before. How could they find time to do anything else?
Then another baby comes along. Do the parents say, hey, we have no time to look after this one? Nope. They love the new baby, too, and fit him or her in just fine.
Writing a book is the same. If you really want to do it, you will find time. Watch less TV. Go online less often. Go on a writing holiday (one of my favourite ways to get the creative juices flowing). Above all, get started today.
Writing projects at the moment include:
- My dystopic novel, Corona Crime. What will happen after Coronavirus? Corona Crime is one of my favourite novels, and one I hope could become a cult hit.
- The 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 ten.
- 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.
- Running this web-site. Setting it up was a steep learning curve – I was much helped early on by the wonderful Stephanie Muzall, and recently completed a revamp with the help of the excellent Dylan Cripps of Smooth Pixel. 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.
- 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.
- A new thriller Palladium, set in Turkey. The novel is complete; but my first efforts to market it have met with mixed success. I may need to rewrite it.
- 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 Corona Crime, set a hundred years earlier.
I also have some short stories, waiting for a home.
What to do next
That’s it. It’s demanding. It’s a joy. It’s writing, and it’s a passion. Always remember Stephen Donaldson, a successful fantasy author. Someone asked him: “What is your advice for writing a book?” He replied: “Start today.”
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