Leigh Turner writing: how to write novels, a blog and short stories, while holding down a full-time day job. For writing a book, a target-driven approach may work for some people.
Thanks to everyone who has been reading my latest books.
This post first appeared when I was working full-time as British Consul-General in Istanbul.
When do you write?
People sometimes ask me: ‘when do you write? What are you working on now?’
Writing in a cafe in Istanbul
Here is a snapshot.
I write on weekends and free evenings. My goal is to do two hours of writing every day. It is an ambitious target, but I often meet it. 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 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. At weekends I sometimes manage four or five hours in a day. Many nights and some weekends, I don’t write at all. Often I find that moving to a place with no computer, with only my writing book and a couple of different-coloured pens, can stimulate creativity.
How do you write?
I usually write in long-hand, then transcribe to the computer. Looking at a computer screen as I write slows me down. The act of transcription to the screen later is enjoyable, and acts as an extra edit.
What’s your latest project?
My Istanbul thriller Palladium links a powerful, myth-flavoured opening set at the time of the Conquest of Istanbul in 1453 with a modern-day thriller introducing John Savage, thrown out of MI6 for gross misconduct. I wrote it between 2013 and 2021; it was published by US publishers Immortal Works in May 2022.
Do you have any long-term projects?
I have around six unpublished novels, depending on what you count. I’d love to find time to complete my trilogy of Foreign Office comedy love stories. Their working titles are Sex and the Summit (set in the Foreign Office in 2015); The Brexit Ambassador (set in 2018) and The Spear of Destiny (set in the British Embassy in Vienna in 2021). Not sure when I’ll find time to complete them. Expressions of interest welcome!
More hotel stories
A long-term project is my Seven Hotel Stories. I originally wrote them, and continue to write them, as annual birthday presents for my partner, who is a hotel general manager (GM). But after I had some terrific feedback, I published them (11 so far). You can download a complete free Hotel Story here, or read the first seven of them by clicking on the link below.
Leigh Turner writing: the web-site
Another big job is running this web-site. It’s easy to spend an evening tidying up links, updating posts, and so on – even before you start writing anything. My biggest danger is obsessing over how many hits I’m getting – I try not to look more than once every ten seconds, but it’s tough.
Another key writing project is marketing my latest books. If you have read them, I always welcome reviews on Amazon. Thanks!
It is a tragic fact that, however brilliant, books do not sell themselves. Promotions – blogs, book readings, circulars or tweaking the settings on Amazon (I occasionally offer a Hotel Story for free) make a difference. I love doing readings, and invest a lot of time in organising them. Do come along!
The back catalogue
I am attached to my back catalogue of novels and short stories. In addition to Blood Summit, Eternal Life, Sex and the Summit, The Brexit Ambassador and The Spear of Destiny I have written four other novels:
– A Killing in Sevastopol, a thriller I wrote in 2012 about tensions between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea, is a prequel to Blood Summit. It stars John Savage, a former SIS agent traumatised by a murder in Moscow who returns to work as a diplomat in Kyiv. Also in the drawer;
– The Skip Outside the Lenin Museum, a thriller set in 1990s Moscow, is a prequel to A Killing in Sevastopol. Yes, it is in the drawer;
– Holiday Period is a prequel to Eternal Life, set a few hundred years earlier in London. Currently in the drawer.
Leigh Turner writing: other short stories
I also have a back catalogue of other short stories – such as “Fixing It“, published on this blog.
So that’s it. It’s demanding. It’s a joy. It’s writing.
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