The Power Of Accountability For Writers
A gourmet dinner at the hotel buffet after the recent RWA conference led to more than just a full stomach. It led to the birth of a new writers club for me and my fellow dining companions. We decided we were committed to being up on the conference stage to collect our First Sale Ribbons as soon as possible, and created a club to help each other achieve that goal – the goal of our first publishing contract.
Our desired outcome comes down to several factors of course, some of which are outside our direct control, but we believe that through commitment to our craft, consistency in action, support of each other, and confidence in our work we can achieve that outcome. And when the time is right for us, we believe we will be on that stage celebrating our first sale.
The club is now in its third week, and already I have achieved more than I would have without the club. Each Monday we state our weekly goals to the group, and share what we achieved from the week before. Doing this makes us focus on the little steps needed to lead towards our bigger goals, and helps us to be more productive.
For writers, life often gets in the way of being consistent with writing, especially when you’re not yet contracted and you feel like you should be doing something else. But having a few like-minded people around you who share your goals is a huge help, and helps you to prioritise your writing and take action towards your dreams.
There is something exciting about writing down your goals and ticking them off as they are completed, even more so when you share these goals with others. Having a writing buddy or a small writing group gives you the power of accountability. No one wants to check in with the group and say they didn’t achieve their goals, so knowing you have to share your progress with the group acts as a strong motivator to get things done, and to stay on the path you have chosen.
If you don’t have a writing buddy or group, I strongly recommend joining or starting one. First of all, join RWA (The Romance Writers of Australia), as they are such a supportive organisation for writers and I have learned so much through them and made great new friends. You don’t even have to be a romance writer to join, we have writers of many different genres in RWA. Then, hook up with a suitable critique partner so you can provide feedback on each other’s work. RWA has a critique partner match-up scheme, or you can find one by asking around online and sharing a few samples of work to see who you click with. I found mine rather organically… we began a conversation on facebook earlier this year and never stopped, and after sharing a sample of work we decided we would like to work together and have been critiquing happily ever since (and our facebook chat is still continuing to this day!). Now through my new writers club I have an additional CP, as it can be good to get two different opinions on your work (plus, I have found the processing of critiquing another writer’s work helps me with my own writing).
So if you find yourself getting to the end of the week and wishing you had written more, learned more, or read more, then consider starting an ‘accountability group’; a group that doesn’t necessarily have to read each other’s work, but exists for the main purpose of helping each other achieve weekly or monthly goals. It makes a huge difference! 🙂
Have You Caught ‘The Writing Bug’?
The Writing Bug is a relentless condition, often unresponsive to treatment, in which victims are compelled to make up stories involving people that don’t really exist, putting them in situations that don’t really happen, in order to (hopefully) entertain people and amuse themselves. The cause is unknown, although some cases can be attributed to its sister condition known as The Reading Bug (*see note at end).
- A strong desire to write
- Sometimes, an inability to write, despite a strong desire to do so (go figure!)
- Meals are often skipped when they are in the midst of writing
- For some, meals are eaten at the desk instead of the dining table
- The victim may be addicted to coffee, tea, chocolate, or other stimulants
- Irritability when writing is interrupted
- Tendency to eavesdrop, stare at, and stalk interesting strangers
- May occasionally pull out a notepad to jot down God knows what
- Often runs to the computer yelling ‘I’ve got it!’ or ‘Now I know what to do in chapter seven!’ while in the middle of something else, such as a shower, dinner, a phone conversation, or in severe cases even childbirth
- The victim may hear voices in their head, but will deny this, saying it is their ‘characters’
- Tendency to have conversations with themselves. Again, they’ll say they are ‘just getting the dialogue right’, but this is just part of the denial
- The habit of cutting out pictures from magazines of gorgeous men (or women) to add to the so called ‘hero’ file
- An associated symptom called ‘procrastination’ may develop; resulting in the victim feeling compelled to perform menial tasks in order to prevent themselves from writing. Some have been known to catalogue their kitchen cupboards, alphabetise their book collection, or pull the fridge out to clean underneath it. In severe cases, one may even call their mother-in-law for a chat.
- Often, the victim may appear to develop a growth on the end of their fingers strangely resembling a keyboard or laptop. Once there, it is hard to remove
- Victims may find their fictional world more interesting than the real world
- An addiction to Google can result, but they will say this is ‘all in the name of research’
- Victims will repeatedly check their emails in hope of hearing from a prospective editor or agent
- Published victims will use their ‘deadline’ as an excuse to avoid social events they don’t wish to attend, or as a way of getting out of exercise and dentists appointments
- A bad back or neck problems can result. It is thought that this is a psychosomatic complication elicited by their subconscious to ensure they can spend most of their time sitting down
- They often start hanging around with other victims, but this only fuels the condition
There is no cure for The Writing Bug.
*Note: The Writing Bug must not be confused with The Reading Bug, in which victims are unable to stop buying books and reading them, taking every opportunity to open those pages and delve into the story. It must be said however, that some cases of The Reading Bug will progress to a secondary affliction of The Writing Bug. For those that do, the prognosis is poor, as The Reading Bug fuels The Writing Bug.
Please spread the awareness of this life-changing condition with loved ones, before it’s too late.
~ Thanks to Toni & Deb for advising me of some extra symptoms 😉