Writing is more than a job, a hobby, or an interest—it’s a way of life. Not many people outside our crazy little realm can understand it. Sometimes, you need extra support in order to get things done. Enter, your accountability partner.
After months (maybe years) of searching for your soul mate, you’ve finally found the write one: your ideal partner in crime fiction, someone that “gets you”, and someone that cares about your writing career. Congratulations! Finding the perfect accountability partner is not an easy task, and they don’t come with instruction manuals! It took me ten years and countless attempts at forging relationships in the writing community to discover how to benefit from a writing accountability partner, and how to be a reliable one as well.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of an accountability buddy.
1) Agree on realistic expectations
What do you expect from your accountability partner? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
It is very important to agree on realistic expectations with your writing buddy. A single writer that works from home is going to have different needs than the mother of three with a full-time job and aging parents. It doesn’t matter if it is infrequent, as long as it is consistent.
You also need to define expectations for communication. Are you going to touch base via email, text, a phone call or in person? Are you going to focus on daily productivity (word count/writing time goals) or do you want feedback on your work? Just like any other relationship in your life, the key to success is communication. Your partner needs to know your expectations and goals.
Communicating clear expectations and establishing a regular schedule gives you the best possible chance of success.
2) Exchange writing/editing favors
Editors can be expensive and reliable beta readers are notoriously difficult to find. Most industry professionals only give away critiques on the first ten pages, if at all. What’s a writer to do? Make the most of your accountability partner!
Although most of the time, your partnership will help you smash your writing goals and meet your deadlines head on, sometimes you just have to call in a few favors. It is difficult to let go and to ask for help, but sometimes it isn’t possible to do it all alone.
Your writing/accountability partner can be your Plan B or go-to in a crisis. When I’m overwhelmed with freelance requests, I can bump a few to my writing buddies. My novel settled into a rut, so I let a writing buddy developmental edit it. Although, we normally just trade motivation and encouragement, it doesn’t hurt to have a few writers look over tough assignments. Your accountability partner might provide just the breakthrough you need to get it done.
3) Share writing opportunities
One of the most important things you can do for your accountability partner is also the easiest. Simply forwarding writing jobs, contest announcements, or writing events can be a huge help. Some of my most lucrative writing gigs were referrals from my writing buddies. Since you and your partner might write in different niches, combining social circles can be of benefit to you both. Two heads (or three or four!) are better than one, especially when it comes to spotting opportunity.
4) Meet or set dedicated weekly times to write together
If “I don’t have time for that!” is the first thing that comes to your mind, hear me out. I promise you have time! It doesn’t have to be in person. Most of my writing buddies and I have never been in the same room. However, we meet online for NaNoWriMo style sprints, weekly meetings to brainstorm ideas, and send daily text messages with word counts to keep us honest. An hour or two once a week can do wonders for your work in progress. The more consistent your habits, the easier it will get. Meet with your writing buddy regularly to establish accountability.
In my search for a writing group in Shanghai, I found several types of writing meetups. Some writers’ meetups were critique focused, with each session reserved solely for feedback. I found another group that has no required feedback or submittal, and the meetups are two hours weekly for silent independent writing. Accountability partners are as varied as writing meetups, you have to set up a schedule and relationship that works for you both.
5) Be emotional support for rejection and the writing life
Sometimes it isn’t about the writing. Handling professional hazards such as “writer’s block,” rejection, self-loathing, and the simple burden of creation requires a like-minded friend’s shoulder to cry on. Your ideal accountability partner should promote your success and soothe your rejection. Sharing your hopes, fears, dreams, and pain with someone that understands can be the difference between getting over it and giving up.
Making the most of your accountability partner might not guarantee your story a happy ending, but it will turn the page. And that’s how the greatest tales unfold—one page at a time.
K.T. Lynn is an American Muslim convert living in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. She is a copywriter by day, and a novelist by night. Her hobbies include reading, scuba-diving, and traveling. She aims to promote cross-cultural understanding through her work, which has been featured in SISTERS, Blue Abaya, Saudi Life, and Productive Muslim. You can read about her misadventures at www.ktlynn.com, connect with her on facebook at @faithisgreaterthanfear, or follow her on Instagram at author_ktlynn.