Last week someone asked me the question, “How do you manage your unmanageability?” My answer: Accountability.
A few months ago I decided on an exercise challenge. After two years of bi-weekly handstand classes I still could not balance on my own in the center of the room. After asking experts I was told, “you need to practice every single day no matter what, for a minimum of two minutes a day. If you do this, in six months to a year you’ll have your handstands.”
I asked a friend in my handstand class if she would be my accountability partner by checking in every day via text. She agreed and we formulated a plan. We made lists of all of our exercises, given to us by our teachers and started checking in daily. After a few weeks I put all the exercises on a google spreadsheet and invited her. Each day we check off what we’ve done and other women have joined us. Happily… it’s working. I can now hold a handstand for up to six seconds on my own in the middle of the room, after only two months of vigilance. I am also in the routine of practicing daily with daily check-ins to my accountability partner.
Why not do the same with writing? I recently formed a critique group, which has been incredible. However, I had not been writing daily and I need to be as I’m very close to finishing my fourth novel. I asked a few people in my critique group if they would be interested in being accountability partners. Instead of checking in daily, which is a good idea, I went straight to a google spreadsheet, inviting some of my critique partners and formed different tabs for each of us at the bottom.
Along the side are the dates and across the top are: word count, time spent (writing), place (we wrote), emotional state (before and/or during the writing).
Each day I record whether I have written or not and I also look at the other writer’s progress which pushes me further. Google Spreadsheets are great for this because you can invite whoever you want to join them. You can look on their spreadsheet to see what they are doing, they’re free and you can use them on all of your devices.
The other day I saw that one of the writer’s was writing up a storm and I was not so I sat down to write. I don’t feel competitive doing this process, I feel spurred forward by their accomplishments. A sort of “if they can do it with their full time job and husband, I can too”.
I have a deadline too, that I set for myself – I want to be finished before the RWA Conference in July. I looked to see how many words I needed to write a day for that goal and it’s beyond doable. Joanna Penn recently asked a writer on her Podcast, The Creative Penn, what made them finish their first book and the answer for them, as well as for Joanna, was to form a deadline.
Having accountability partner/s is one great way to make your writing goals. Setting a deadline is another. All that said, if you don’t write for a day or two or three or four the most important is not to beat yourself up about it. You can always look at “today” – whatever day is today as the first day you’re going to start and reset your goal accordingly. You can also be realistic. Maybe you only have time to write 1-2 days a week. Accountability can still work. Make sure your partner knows what works for you and what you’re agreeing to do.
Here are two other great articles on accountability, writing, and deadlines J
8 Accountability Strategies for Writing Your Book
How to Hold Yourself Accountable As a Writer
~Written by Chloe Adler