I told you all in my 2020 Goals post that I’m trying to focus on writing goals over reading goals this year. That seems like it should be a no-brainer, but somehow while I typically don’t have any problem finding time to read, I always find a million excuses not to write. I have learned from “author Twitter” that this is not a problem that’s unique to me—take a quick scan across posts on social media and you’ll find that writers everywhere are finding creative ways to distract themselves:
I’ve got a really important scene to write! This is going to be pivotal. I can’t wait to dive in! … Except the refrigerator needs to be organized. I can’t possibly leave the ketchup in that terrible spot for one more instant. And I should probably wash the extra spare sheets, just in case the regular spares get used. You never know when multiple random guests might stop by…
It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
But, strangely, my next book hasn’t yet written itself. Even the scenes that I’ve elaborately plotted in the shower haven’t magically appeared on the page. So, what’s a girl to do?
I’ve found a wonderfully motivating lifeline, and her name is Megan. Some of you may remember that I mentioned meeting Megan at the LA SCBWI conference this past summer. We were our agent’s two newest clients at the time. She and I hit it off immediately, and a friendship was born! When we got back to the “real world” away from the motivation of writing intensives, she suggested that we help each other stay on track with a weekly call. She even created a spreadsheet where we could write down our goals for the week and hold each other accountable.
Let me tell you, this has been a lifesaver!!!
Now, I’ll confess that I still wasn’t as productive at the end of last year as I would have liked. Those of you who’ve been around my blog know that the end of last year brought me one disaster after another (with my husband in the ER and two weeks later my daughter getting into an accident that caused months of pain and doctors visits, and then that massive plumbing emergency … there was more, but I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say, things weren’t going my way.) If I hadn’t had that weekly call with Megan, I can guarantee I would have gotten absolutely NOTHING done during the last quarter of 2019.
But accountability is a beautiful thing. Every week, I knew that call was coming, so every week I pushed myself to check off the boxes on that spreadsheet.
For many of us who write, procrastination is easy: unless you have a specific book deal pending, there’s probably no one waiting on you. No one knows (or cares) if you finished that latest chapter. No one’s checking in with you to see if you solved that plot problem you’d been struggling with. If you find yourself stuck for one reason or another, it’s really easy to just drift away from your WIP with promises to yourself that you’ll get to it “later.” Always later.
But a writer friend can be an incredible motivator. In mid-January, Megan encouraged me to challenge myself to write a poem a day (each weekday) for the verse novel I’m working on. Because of that encouragement, I now have 11 more poems written!!
All you writers out there, you should get yourselves a Megan. If at all possible, find someone who is roughly at the same writing stage as you are, and agree to connect regularly. It doesn’t necessarily have to be weekly and it doesn’t have to be via phone; that’s what’s worked for us, but you might fall into a rhythm that works better for you. But the key is to be intentional about it. We’ve all met writerly friends and said, “Oh, we should totally keep in touch and check up on each other,” but then it doesn’t actually happen. The business card goes into a drawer somewhere and ends up forgotten. Don’t let that happen!! If you find someone you click with, I promise it will be worth it to take that extra step and actually stay in touch!
In case you’re not convinced, here are (some of) the benefits of a writing accountability partner:
Duh, but I still had to list it. This is pretty much what this whole post was about, so I’ll move on…
- Someone to commiserate with
Publishing is hard. Trust me, you’re going to have times where you’ll want to talk to someone who gets it. Someone who’s going through a lot of the same things that you are. Someone who understands all the ups and downs involved.
- Someone to celebrate with
When I heard the news that Megan’s publishing deal had come through, I was thrilled for her!! And I am going to be her biggest cheerleader!
By the way, did you all see me mention that Megan’s middle-grade verse novel is being published by Simon & Schuster in 2021? No? Okay, I’ll remind you:
- Someone to go to writing events and conferences with
Going to big conferences can be so intimidating. But when you know you have a friend waiting for you there, it’s a whole lot less so. (I’ll be seeing Megan in New York on Friday!!)
There’s a very good chance you’ll end up considering your writing accountability partner a true friend. I know I do. And we all need more of those in our lives!
Are you a writer? Do you have a friend that helps you stick with your writing goals and encourages you? I want to know!
This post is linked up to the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.