“Accountability is the glue that bonds committment to results,” said Will Craig.
One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo the most is the aspect of defining a word count and a hard goal to work toward. There’s a clear deadline too and that attaches a seemingly greater deal of importance to a writing project than it possesses.
Now, this degree of accountability you soak in during the month of November is something that you could take with you whenever you write. I’m not talking 50,000 word goals and monthly deadlines (you don’t want to burn yourself out!) But you could replicate that buzz of energy you get during NaNoWriMo at other times.
For writers, our motivation to get pen on paper can fluctuate very easily. One day, we’re riding a creative high, then we have a week of zero motivation. That writer slump can become routine if you’re not careful.
A great way to do this is by holding yourself accountable for your writing.
What’s Writing Accountability?
You’ve probably heard the word in reference to big fancy corporations, but the same concept can be extended to you, a writer.
Holding yourself accountable means you’re answerable for not meeting a certain goal or target.
Imagine you have an important deadline for this huge project at your job. If you don’t meet it and the project gets pushed, your boss will definitely call you in and want to have a word with you.
Why? Because that project is your responsibility; just as your writing is!
Responsibility and accountability go hand-in-hand but accountability is the part that kicks your gears into action.
Be your own boss and have a sit-down with yourself when you don’t meet a writing goal. What are the “consequences” it has on your creative plans? How can you take your writing more seriously?
Writing Accountability Strategies
I’m not a big fan of personality labels but I’ve been told that I have the characteristics of a ‘born leader’. That once I set my mind to do something, I do all I can to achieve it.
While this may be true in certain regards, I tend to go a little too easy on myself with my writing goals. In my mind, there’s an inbuilt safety cushion for when I fail to complete a writing project.
“You can always do it later,” I’d say. Cue: one year of sitting on a novel idea simply due to lethargy. The repercussions? Immense guilt, followed by a negative mindset that I can’t possibly meet the original vision I had for the story anymore.
You don’t want to get complacent about something you’re passionate about. So, don’t allow yourself to!
Here are a few ways you can hold yourself more accountable for your writing:
Write down your goals
If you do it for NaNo, you can do it anytime. You don’t want to just set yourself a random deadline. You want to know exactly what you’re working toward and why setting a defined goal for it is important.
For example, I plan to start querying agents for a novel by February 2021. So, I’m using NaNoWriMo this year to rewrite my final draft, then doing a line edit for it after. I know what the big picture is and what I have to do to get there.
Make it a challenge
Setting a challenge will motivate you, without a doubt. You’ll feel like you’re part of something bigger and you’d want to see it through. It doesn’t have to be word-count based. Maybe the challenge can be ‘maintain a 100-day writing streak’ or ‘write every day for a half hour’. But make sure it’s something that can boost your writing over all.
Having a partner in crime, someone to share goals with and who can ask you all about your writing journey at the end of the day…how utterly romantic, right?
On a serious note, getting yourself an accountability partner can make you take your goals more seriously than you would on your own. It’s one thing scolding yourself but hearing someone else come hard on you for procrastinating can do the job. You also have someone to share your victories with; someone else to cheer on with their goals too!
If not a full fledged buddy, you can spread the news about your writing goals online and to your loved ones. The more people know about it, the more motivated you’ll feel to see it through.
Rewards and Punishments
Did you accomplish a 50-day writing streak? Did you finish your novel within the timeline, or maybe even ahead of it? Pop some champagne, treat yourself to you something you like and celebrate!
Or did you maybe slack off, sleep in more often and maybe skip your morning writing sessions a little too often? Tsk tsk. Ask your friend to change your Netflix password and hold your account hostage till you catch up to your goal.
Your writing is important – so celebrate your victories and punish yourself when you’re not doing great. Don’t get too hard on yourself but knowing there’s a risk of lost Netflix privileges on the horizon may just give you that extra boost you need to meet your goals.
Want That Accountability?
It can be scary to make your writing a “serious affair” and using big words like accountability can seem daunting. But if you dream big, you got be willing to go the extra mile!
Start taking more charge of your writing goals and aspirations by taking more charge of yourself. Perhaps, NaNoWriMo 2020 could be the beginning of your accountability journey!