Writing is usually done by yourself, but sometimes doing it by yourself isn’t effective. There’s nothing like writing with a friend to help you keep track of your time. if you’re writing a blog post instead of editing a chapter, it still counts.

Here’s the thing:

Nothing makes you accountable like having someone next to you also writing.

It doesn’t matter if they are also working on the same sort of project or if they are working on their buisness proposal, nothing holds you accountable more than someone next to you who can see when you check Twitter on your phone because you already shut off the internet on your computer. You know how you are. Oh, that might be me.

I LOVE the folks I used to write with in Seattle. They are such amazing people and their internal motivation makes me wanna put words. However, I spent between 45 minuets and an hour and a half driving to meet them (traffic is killer). I stopped going when I started my night classes at the college. And the last four months, my children have that day stacked up with after school programs from 4:30 to 7:30 at night. There’s no way I’m crossing the bridges for 20 minutes left of productive time. But I want to see them. I really do enjoy them as human beings and love hearing about their triumphs and work.

You may want a partner to ask, “What have you done since we last got together?”  Or “What will you do before I see you again?”

That’s what i look for in a writing group: positive environment for productivity. I get plenty of butt in chair time, but it can devolve into Twitter or video game time too easily as my reward system over takes my paragraphs.

Everyone has a different need, though. Some people really want an invested group that will exchange critiques. I’ve been part of several of these groups, but rarely with a group where other writers had the same genre as I had been writing. These people are still fabulous, and many of them are very good writers, but we came at my writing from such different places that I’m shocked the others lasted as long as they did. The person reading for you must like, or at least have a familiarity with the tropes of your genre for a critique group to work. That’s a different post. 

Productivity and accountability tips from the trenches:

  • Be flexible with yourself.
    • If you are re-writing or if you are creating a rough draft or plotting,
  • Make realistic goals.
  • Document your writing time and the outcome
    • keeping a spreadsheet of your words put on the page.
    • keep a tally of the chapters or pages you re-wrote
  • Keep at it.
    • It’s OK to take today off, but a week off might be best between projects, not chapters.
    • Nobody can write your story but you.

I have a friend who runs her business out of her home. She’s not writing when I’m with her unless it’s to dash off an email. Usually she walks around the house, occasionally behind my chair as she paces doing her client calls. This is exactly what I need. Also, she’s an awesome cheerleader, always celebrating the little victories. The picture that goes with this post? That’s me, after a few very long nights, with a sticker from my accountability partner. Before I left, she asked what I would do before meeting up again. And when I answered, she gave me the sticker. It says, “I set reasonable goals.”

That’s an accomplishment.