Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

2019's gonna be intense

27 December 2018

Hey folks!

Well – honestly – this is a bit embarrassing for me. I did say that I was going to cut back on my blogging, but not like this.

It’s been two months since my last post. Let’s catch up and reset?

I got some news

Just as NaNoWriMo kicked off in November, I received some news. It wasn’t bad news, but it was certainly life-changing.

I had to put the brakes on NaNoWriMo — on all my fiction writing, in fact — to take care of this new, higher-priority… thing.

See, I can’t talk about it. Oh, wish I could. I could use advice and guidance now more than maybe ever before, but my lips are sealed until July.

But – oh boy – it’s going to be fun in July!

I hate to be mysterious, and I’m sorry, but it’s confidential for now. All I can say is: it’s a big thing, it’s a scary thing, and it’s one of the best things to ever happen to me.

2018 goals

In the interests of self-improvement, let’s see how I fared on my 2018 goals and figure out what I need to do to make 2019 awesome.

I set myself three goals at the beginning of 2018:

2018 goal #1: Publish a novel

Well, I figured out in my mid-year checkin that I was likely going to fail to publish this year, and – yep – that’s a hard fail.

I made some fantastic progress with the novel when I set my 16-week challenge, but…

…oh, I never posted a final update on that, did I?

Well, at the end of September I marked the first draft done and moved onto editing. I booked a day off from my day-job, settled down in Exeter Library, and started reading the draft from the top.

And here’s the thing: It was angry. It was bitter. It was therapy far more than it was story-telling.

It needed some serious surgery.

I made some notes on what needed to change; mostly characters’ reactions, that kind of stuff.

Then, with an eye on keeping the structure of the story intact, I started working on swapping out the vitriol.

And, you know what? You already know what I’m going to say.

You can’t change the characters without changing the story.

The story is the sequence of action and reaction. Without the anger, it’s all wrapped up by the end of the first chapter.

So, I didn’t know what to do. I’m not ashamed to say I panicked a bit. I’d spent a year working on that thing, and it was unpublishable down to its core.

I tried freewriting and brainstorming a way out, but I just couldn’t see a path that lead to this story ever being finished.

It took me a couple of weeks of moping to figure out a plan of action. I realised that the worldbuilding was sound and worth keeping, but the characters had to go. So, I did what every self-respecting writer does: I pivoted to a prequel.

And that seed of an idea eventually became Holly Rhombus and the Bloody Void… which could’ve been awesome, if I hadn’t needed to put the brakes on to deal with the aforementioned nonsense in November.

So, yeah, that’s a hard fail for getting published.

2018 goal #2: Submit stories to three anthologies

Yep, that’s another hard fail. By my mid-year checkin I’d already decided to give up on that goal in favour of focussing on the novel.

2018 goal #3: Write 1,000 words per day more often than I don’t

So, I don’t have any hard metrics for this, but it looked like I achieved 5-9,000 words per week during my 16-week challenge, so that absolutely works out as “1,000 words per day more often than not.”

Hurray! There’s a win!

2018 mid-year goal: Get at least 70,000 of first draft done by the end of the year

At my mid-year checkin I revised my three goals down into just one: Get at least 70,000 of first draft done by the end of the year.

Well, would you look at that…

78,181 words!

78,181 words!

78,181 words! That’s two wins!

Lessons learned from 2018

I can see two themes in my successes and failures from last year:

  1. When I set myself strict goals and hold myself accountable to them, I succeed.
  2. When I get distracted from my core goals – like working on anthology submissions – then I fail.

So, 2019 is going to be goal-driven, strict, and shared.

Goals for 2019

I’m going to split my 2019 goals into two chunks: Pre-July goals which I can share now, and Post-July goals which I’ll share later.

So, here are my goals for the first six months of 2019:

2019 goal #1: Establish getcodelove.com

getcodelove.com in development.

getcodelove.com in development.

getcodelove.com is a new blog I’m starting, which focusses on software development, DevOps, and all that good stuff. It isn’t live at the time of writing this, so that link is likely not working yet.

(In fact, as a money-saving gambit I’ve shifted this entire blog over to the same platform as getcodelove. Damn, that was a pain in the ass, but it’ll save a few quid in the long-run.)

My specific goals are:

  1. Publish a 600-word article every week.
  2. Publish a 1,000-word article every month.
  3. By the end of January, figure out a lead magnet for the mailing list.
  4. By the end of February, create that lead magnet.

2019 goal #2: Complete the first draft of a new non-fiction book

I’ve been thinking about writing a software-related non-fiction book for a couple of years, but I always prioritised my novels. But now I’m thinking… wouldn’t it be interesting to try?

So, my specific goals are:

  1. By the end of January, have the outline fully brainstormed and planned.
  2. By the end of May, have an 80,000 word first draft.
  3. By the end of June, complete the first draft and be ready to send to beta readers.

80,000 words by the end of May sounds like a lot, but here’s the thing: there are 16 weeks between January and May, and I already know that I can write 5,000 words per week for 16 weeks. I just did that challenge!

5,000 words on the book plus 1,000 words on the blog per-week is totally doable.

Weekly schedule

I’m setting myself a new, strict weekly schedule to fit these goals around my day-job:

Night Task
Monday Work on non-fiction book.
Tuesday Work on non-fiction book.
Wednesday Date night.
Thursday Work on non-fiction book.
Friday Date night.
Saturday Write an article for getcodelove.
Sunday Creative day for learning, thinking about the email list lead magnet, etc.

Publish weekly update blog here.

There’s the plan, then

I hope all your plans for 2019 are coming together! Have you set any goals, and put them online? Share a link in the comments, and have an awesome new year!