The Value of Accountability

My friend Tracy and I formed a writing accountability group about three weeks ago. We agreed that each day we would write 1,000 words on our new manuscripts and send them to each other at the end of the night. We are not reading each other’s words, merely sending them off via e-mail with a word count listed somewhere.

I was the first one to fail.

It was a Monday night, and after teaching all day, getting the girls home early for dinner/homework/bath time to then after whisking  them off to gymnastics and then home again for a quick snack and bed—it just didn’t happen. The girls were wound up and stayed up later than normal. They were wired, and I was exhausted. Despite all appearances, this isn’t an excuse that I’m offering, nor was it one when I explained to Tracy that I couldn’t complete my goal that night. I sent her a $5 Amazon gift card. And thus, an extremely nice form of either punishment or motivation (however you look at it) was born. Now, not only do I have to stay accountable to Tracy, but there is a consequence to my lack of discipline, should I choose not to meet my goal.

This experiment has been a success. A tiring success, but a success nonetheless. My new manuscript is hovering around 20,000 words, and hers has climbed 30K. Likewise, I feel like I now actually *have* a new project. Sometimes the beginning of a new book is the hardest for me. I don’t know the characters yet; I’m trying to find the right pace, and I struggle with the first scenes. It can be daunting, and it can make anyone want to quit—especially me.

Thanks to Tracy, I’m not quitting, and I’m not putting it off any more.

All of this is to say: One of the most helpful things I’ve found for writing is accountability. Your group, should you establish one, can be small. It can be informal. You don’t need a fancy meeting time or place or excess gear. All you need is one other person (whom you trust) and an agreement that you can both uphold.

Happy writing!


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