Four Ways Writers Can Benefit from Having an Accountability Partner
I didn’t set out to find an accountability partner, she just kind of appeared one day. Here’s what happened:
One morning while I was fiddling around on Instagram, I saw a post by a fellow author who was annoyed with herself for having a couple of zero word count days that month. I told her I, too, had floundered, and my goal was to have no more zero word count days for the rest of the month. She responded that we’d hold each other to it, and that’s exactly what we did; we each had positive word count days the rest of the month!
Things went so well we decided to continue the arrangement indefinitely.
If you don’t have an accountability partner, I suggest you consider finding one. Here are some ways writers can benefit from having an accountability partner:
Someone Who Understands
Friends and family make dreadful accountability partners for writers. Why?
Because your friends and family don’t really care how many words you wrote today. Or if you published another article on Medium. Or if you had trouble uploading your manuscript to Amazon. Besides, they have nothing invested in your world, no skin in the game.
But other authors do! They get it, they speak the language and can relate in ways other people in your life can’t.
Plus, when you work with someone who isn’t a personal “friend,” you don’t get distracted by non-writing things in your lives like marital problems, parenting problems, troubles with teachers, etc..
Every morning, I set my goal and tell my partner what it is. Then, at the end of the day, I let her know if I met my goal. She does the same. Most of the time I meet my goal because I don’t want to have to report to her I didn’t!
Get More Specific and Set Realistic Goals
When I started reporting to my partner what I wanted to accomplish each day I realized I needed to be specific with my goals. Very specific.
Word count? Getting a blog post finished? Rewriting my bio on LinkedIn? Updating the back material in my books on Amazon? Editing ten pages?
Being specific helps me set realistic goals for myself. I look at my day and figure out how much time I have left after meeting my family and teaching obligations, and then I choose a goal I can accomplish in that time frame.
There might be twenty things on my writing to-do list, but some days I only have time to address one small thing, like updating a bio. But if I get it marked off the list, hey, that’s one less thing on the list! All wins, even small ones, put you closer to achieving your bigger goals.
Occasionally I come across a glory day, a day where I can shoot for 2,500 words on my WIP and publish another article on my website. I love those days, but they don’t come around that often because I’m not a full-time writer. So, I must work with the time I have and make the most of it. My accountability partner helps keep me on track!
Focus and Productivity
I’ve honed my ability to focus since my accountability partner came into my life. I’m driven to meet my goal, so I don’t have time for dilly-dallying. I set a timer and GO. No internet, no email, no Facebook. If I want to be able to tell my partner I met my goal for the day, I don’t have time for those things when I’m writing.
And because of my sharper focus, my productivity has increased. The plotting, outlining, and writing of the first draft of my second novel took me two-and-a-half months, while it took me a year to finish my first novel. That’s a huge benefit.
One of the best benefits of having an accountability partner is that I get to be one, too. I get a chance to support a member of the writing community and encourage her and celebrate with her when she meets her goals.
How about you? Do you have an accountability partner? Do you check in daily? Weekly? Monthly? I’d love to hear about your experience!
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the nonfiction book, Surviving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started. She has also written several books on yoga and meditation, as well as a travel memoir about the time she, her husband, and their handicapped cat moved to Ecuador.
When Kris isn’t writing at her standing desk, she can be found playing chess, folding an origami crane, or practicing a Bach French Suite on the piano. She lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband and two cats.