Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

Let's mix things up a bit!

29 September 2018

I’ve got a lot to talk about today!

Setting a word count goal for my first draft was a mistake

Earlier this year, I gave myself the idea that it would be just awesome to give myself a wordcount goal for the first draft of Esthree Postbuild and The Agency of Dragons and Stars and Things.

I figured it would help me to track my progress, if I knew exactly where the end was and how far away I was from it.

I guess I was 90% correct. 90%-ish, anyway,

The thing is, I hit 78k-ish a couple of weeks ago, and then adding new words was a struggle. I’d written as much detail as I could, and I couldn’t add any more until I was in the editing-revision phase and had a better idea of what exactly had brought the characters to this point.

78,181 words written.

78,181 words written.

The logical part of my brain told me that the first draft was clearly done, and the next step was to start editing and revising.

But the damned emotional part of my brain was invested in the gamification of filling that 80k circle, and craved the celebration of sharing that success.

And the damned emotional part of my brain won out. I wasted weeks eking out words here and there to hit that totally arbitrary goal.

It’s not that I didn’t realise this was a mistake. Oh, I knew it for sure. It just took me a few weeks to accept it and deal with it.

And so, this is me dealing with it: That 80k goal was stupid, I don’t care any more, and I’m calling this first draft done!

And — oh boy — it’s such a relief to accept that. Fuck the circle, man. I’m moving onto editing.

Writing blog posts on Sunday afternoons is not the best use of my time

All the stuff up there was a cinch to recognise and deal with compared to the stuff down here.

Sundays are my best days for writing. During the week, I’m too exhausted from my day-job to invest as much time as I’d like. I like to spend Saturdays with my boyfriend Alex, until he leaves for work in the early evening and I get a couple of hours to myself.

On Sundays, though, I get almost the entire afternoon to do put on my headphones and hit the keyboard.

And you know how I use that golden, sacred writing time? I spend Sunday afternoons drafting my weekly writing update post — detailing all the writing I wanted to do but never found time for — instead of actually working on the damned novel.

So… I hate to say it, but I’m going to quit my regular weekly update.

I’ll still be around, but I’ll only post when I have something interesting to share, rather than try to make every week interesting.

Thinking about my reader-facing brand

I’ve met some folks in real-life who are interested in my novel, and occasionally ask me about how it’s going.

It felt amazing that they were interested! But all I could tell them was that it’s “coming early next year.” I didn’t have a website I could share with them, or a mailing list they could sign up for to get a poke when the book is finally out.

See, I don’t really want to send my prospective readers to this blog. I don’t think most readers care for how the sausage is made. I don’t think a frank sharing of the struggles of writing are going to endear them to my story.

So, I’ve set up an entirely new website; one I’m happy to share with readers who are interested in what I’m writing, and gives them a mailing list to sign up for too.

And it’s (unimaginatively) at

I’m going to keep this blog running, for sure. I might end up moving it to a new address — with a name more obviously describing it as “an author writing about writing” — but who can say? Like I said before, blogging is going to receive far less time in my life for the foreseeable future. I need to get my damned novel edited.

In conclusion…

Take the time to review what you’re doing, and the way you’re doing it. Don’t fall into a comfortable pattern of mediocrity; tear out anything that doesn’t work, and replace it with something new. Maybe something untried. Maybe just a change of mindset.

Be well, you lovely people!