#5onFri: Five Ways Writers Can Be Accountable

by Linda Bernadette Burgess and Diane DeMasi Johnson
published in Community

Sometimes even the best of intentions can go wrong. You have a plan to write, but then Monday turns into Friday and your goal is nothing but a distant memory, cast aside for the completion of daily errands. Or you pull up your writer’s chair and sink in with ideas flowing, but the doorbell chimes and your heartbroken friend needs help. Or your phone rings and the school informs you that your child is sick, please pick-up immediately.

We get it. We’ve all been there. Gabriela says these are the times to Honor Your Reality.

But what happens when our wheel of reality becomes distorted? When we allow frivolous errands priority over our writing time? Well, ideally your best writing buddy will boot your wheel back on track,  remind you that you wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment for your physical health, so why dismiss your mental health by ignoring your writing desires?

Once your wheel is righted, you’ll want to stay on track. So carve out writing time, protect that time like you would a vital appointment, and utilize one or more of the following ideas to be accountable to your goals.

1) Sign-up for a conference where you can pitch your work

Pitching your work at a conference has many benefits. It gives you a deadline. It spurs you into action and fires up your writing so that you make consistent progress to have your manuscript ready for submitting. An added benefit is that once at the conference, you will learn so much to improve your writing and return home eager to write more.

2) Rewards or Consequences

You are either a person who lives for a reward or you’re the person who will do anything to avoid a consequence.

Linda is a rewards person, and she can push herself to attain that spiffy new journal. Diane is of the “avoid punishment at all costs” type. She sets the most horrific consequences, then works hard to avoid them. For example, Diane might tell her husband about the goal she needs complete by the end of the week. If by 5:00 p.m. on Friday she hasn’t met that goal, she will clean the shower drain of hair. Diane made that deadline, much to the chagrin of her husband. Side note: Beware spouses that try to thwart your best efforts so they can avoid the nasty consequence you’ve devised!

3) Poster and Vision Board/ Revision Timeline Worksheet

A great way to stay accountable to your writing is to use reminders with visual stimulants that will keep those characters and stories awake. Pick a place where you can hang up a vision/mood board that you will see daily. Hang up clippings of words and pictures that inspire your writing and story. When you see the board, the story will spark and stay active in your mind even when you can’t be with it one hundred percent. You may feel your characters begin to stir and talk. Keep a notepad with you just in case they say anything significant. Doing this can create excitement to meet your scheduled writing time, and will help you get right to work when you sit down to write.

You can use worksheets on this board as well. Check out this Revision Timeline Worksheet, inspired by Gabriela.

If you are in the process of working on the final draft of your novel this worksheet can keep you focused and looking forward to getting work done.

4) Online Courses

Being in a virtual classroom is convenient. It will save you time not having to travel to a class, which will give you more time for your writing. But also, you will be learning and  applying, and many of the exercises/homework can be applied to your Work in Progress.

5) Find an Accountability Partner

If you feel a connection to another writer that you have met at a conference or online, maybe they will be the perfect accountability partner for you.

So, don’t be shy, reach out to that person. If you decide to give it a try, be consistent, but realize there may be weeks that you both need to miss. Honor that, then pick it back up and get into your schedule again. In talking through your process, stating your goals, and knowing that your weekly lifeline chat is on the horizon, you will find comfort and drive to keep going, to be accountable, to keep getting in that chair to write!

Linda Bernadette Burgess and Diane DeMasi Johnson met while participating in DIYMFA 101. They discovered they shared more than a desire to further their writing skills. They became accountability partners. That partnership grew into a friendship and led to the creation of WeGotThisWriteNow.com. Sprint with Linda and Diane using the hashtag #SprintWithWGT.

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