Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

November 2017 writing retrospective

30 November 2017

I’m going to review what went well this month – so I can keep doing it –  and make a note of what I need to change for December to be a better month.

✔ “Esthree Postbuild vs the Void Rock” is a ton of fun to write

After so many false starts this year, it’s been so good to find a story that works as well as this one is!

It’s got a little bit of science-fiction.

It’s got a little bit of fantasy.

It’s got a little bit of comedy.

It’s got dragons.

✔ I feel like my storytelling is improving

It’s been great to put all the creative-writing tips I’ve accumulated through the year into practice, too.

In particular, I’ve been working hard on scene structure, foreshadowing and pay-off, and I really feel like I’ve crossed a threshold from “my stories are a series of events that happen” to “my stories are interesting and exciting”.

✘ …but I didn’t hit my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words

So, obviously, November was NaNoWriMo. I set myself the goal of writing 50,000 words, and… well, I failed on that. I only managed 33,529 words.

What prevented me getting those words out? Well…

✘ I didn’t finish the novel’s outline before NaNoWriMo

This super-killed my productivity.

When I have a scene all planned out, I can just vomit up the words and move on.

But I didn’t have them all planned out. I spent too long in Preptober working on duff ideas, and I just didn’t have time to finish planning this story as deeply as I needed to before NaNoWriMo started.

Next year, I need to start brainstorming my NaNoWriMo novel in September, then dedicate to Preptober to deep planning.

✘ There were too many days when I didn’t write at all

I have bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety and paranoia, which – as well as making me a ton of fun at parties – hits my productivity hard and out of the blue.

I can think of three or four days during November when my mental health didn’t let me get any words out. If I could’ve worked through those a little faster, then I could’ve got more words out. I’m hoping that I can get a novel or two out over the next 12 months, and build up my confidence  bit to help me push through the bad days.

Mind you, there were a couple of days which were non-negotiable no-writing days. I took a two-day trip to Nottingham to talk in a loft at a technology event.

Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

Cariad & Stu at Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

Cariad & Stu at Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

Pizza at Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

Pizza at Nottingham AWS User Group November 2017.

And I treated myself to a whisky at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – the oldest inn in England!

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

And let me tell you, that place is gorgeous. I tried getting some photos inside, but they just didn’t work out. I don’t want to spoil anything for the folks who haven’t read Seveneves (which is my favourite novel ever), but the inn reminded me very much of a bar described in there.

And look: the Park Plaza hotel’s carpets have motivational scrawls on them:

Park Plaza hotel room.

Park Plaza hotel room.

I think the point I’m aiming towards is: there will always be days when I can’t write. The trick is to build up my confidence so there are fewer days lost to low mental health.