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.
I’m glad you found somebody to keep you motivated! Congratulations to Megan for the book deal! I’m in a writing group, but we haven’t met for months. I think a lot of us (including me) have given up. It’s hard to stay motivated to do something that I suck at. I’ve been thinking about hiring an editor to look at the old stuff I’ve written. Having a to-do list of stuff to change might get me motivated again.
I definitely know what you mean—even after going on submission, I still go back and forth between feeling excited about my writing and desperately hopeless. Writing is both wonderful and painful!
What a timely post! I finished a post a couple of days ago (soon to be posted) about my 2020 writing goals (similar to you, it’s easy to meet my reading goals, but I’m struggling on the writing front). One of my goals was to find a writing group or partner this year. Thanks for reinforcing the idea for me (I particularly like the idea of knowing someone at writing conferences…..I’m so very intimidated by the idea). Congrats on a good match 🙂
What kind of book are you writing, Lisa? If it’s YA, MG or children’s, there are lots of local SCBWI groups around here. Let me know if that’s the case, and I can point you in the right direction! (If not, your local library might possibly host a writing group—I used to be in one at mine).
It’s great to hear that you’ve found an accountability partner! I recently found out that a close college friend of mine is writing a novel. We’ve been trying to encourage each other, but we haven’t outlined what accountability would look like for us. It’s encouraging to hear that accountability has helped you write more. What are some things that you and Megan go over when you check in with each other?
We typically set ourselves goals for the week and then we talk over how we did with them. The goals really vary, depending on what we’re working on. Right now, I’m working to write a poem per weekday, but we’ve also made goals of fixing a particular problem in our manuscript or incorporating comments from a critique partner, doing certain research, etc. It’s just really nice to have someone to check in with—someone who actually cares if you make progress!
Oh yeah, accountability is huge! I used to have an online group that kept me accountable, but it hasn’t been around for a while. I need to go look for a new form of accountability, thanks for the reminder.
It really does make such a big difference!
This is so great to hear. I’m glad having a writing accountability partner is working out so well for you. 🙂
It has been wonderful!
I’ve gone through a couple writing friends, but neither lasted. One was someone who I was friends with before I started writing. And we’d kind of drifted apart, but then reconnected a few years ago. She is completely self-published. We had writing dates all the time, and that helped me stay accountable. But then she moved a little farther away from me, and she didn’t like when I reviewed her book and gave it 3 stars. Which, to be fair, I always sent her the links to my reviews, but she never bothered to read any of them until someone else pointed out my review on Amazon and it upset her. My other friend is one that whenever we get together we end up talking instead of getting a lot of writing done. So I wish I had someone! Lucky you for finding a partner!
I remember you mentioning that your friendship with one writer ended when you gave her book three stars. That’s a shame—it can definitely be a challenge not to let issues like that creep in. And jealousy can be an issue too for many writing friends. Sorry your friendship couldn’t weather that problem!
I work with a writing partner so accountability is a bit easier for us. Unfortunately her health has turned for the really bad. So no writing for now. Every once in a while she comes up for air and seems back to her old self. But then side effects hit. Still it’s the best to have a partner who cares about what you’re writing. I happen to see mine every day but, you’re right, whatever works for you.
So sorry to hear about your friend’s health! I hope she turns a corner soon, for her benefit (of course) and for yours! 🙂
I love our partnership, and it’s made the last six months among the most productive of my writing life! It was wonderful playing in New York at the SCBWI conference with you, too. Can’t wait for the next one! xoxo
You made that conference about 1000% less stressful for me by your mere presence—I love them, but sometimes the masses of people can feel overwhelming!
I agree with needing to be intentional when it comes to a writing partner. I recently got one and we just swapped our first three chapters! We try to catch up weekly and talk about our not only our WIP but also our lives.
That’s perfect! I hope it works out great for both of you!!!
I’m glad you’ve found a way to maintain a writing groove AND found a new friend! I don’t know how authors keep plugging away all the time when things are hard but I imagine this approach has got to be one of the better ones.
Yes, it has been quite helpful! Writing can be a lonely road.
My sister writes too and we are both currently working on different projects! While it is not exactly accountability it helps to have someone to discuss and chat and complain and celebrate with. Maybe we should be a bit more strict and turn it into an accountability partnership though because we could both use it!
I definitely recommend it because that accountability piece has been key for me.