Accountability Partnership in Writing

This week I met with a new friend to set up what we’re calling an accountability partnership. A (she asked that I keep her identity private) is a writer, a columnist, who is looking to write fiction.  I met her at the recent Japan Writers’ Workshop and we had lunch together there.  At that lunch, I was musing about something said by Lauren Shannon, conference presenter, writer, caterer, political activist, and all around superwoman about accountability.  It was Lauren who discussed writing in groups versus alone, making each writer accountable to the others in the group.  It resonated with me.

So weeks later, A and I met to set up such a partnership – a true accountability partnership for our writing.  Both A and I are pretty regimented about the way we work.  We want to be able to set aside dedicated time for it and dedicated space as well.  We want to be accountable to each other daily for both a writing goal and a time commitment.  We want to plan each week of goals and time in advance.

We set up a schedule for this first week where she is going to work for 90 minutes and produce 500 words per day and I am going to work for one hour a day and hopefully by the end of the week, produce a re-worked outline for the first draft of a novel I’ve completed which needs major editing.   That was our discussion on Monday morning.

Monday and Tuesday went beautifully.  Not only did we do the work and send each other an email at night, but we both felt more motivated and on top of tasks that needed doing besides these dedicated writing tasks.  For example, I knew I had to get in my hour, so I made sure to get to the post office nice and early before I got distracted by other things.  In addition, I know I’ll have a lot to do on Thursday, so I’ve worked out a schedule for myself for the day to squeeze in the hour first thing in the morning.  As for A, she is so amazing that she didn’t even let a call from her sister, which took 90 minutes, deter her from her daily goal, and she said normally a derailment like that would have put her off for the whole day.  But knowing she was accountable to me forced her to keep to her word.

Today is day three of said partnership.  I see great potential in it for not only writing, but keeping promises to myself and organizing my days.  What a great value.

Certainly I will keep you apprised our progress, but right now I think we can expect great things!

Procrastination and Discipline – one writer’s life

My friend Ann broke her toe yesterday.  I went into “good friend” mode and did what I could to make things easier for her because she’s a great friend about whom I care deeply.  Some of that involved sitting on her couch with her chit-chatting today.  The day before that, we went shopping together and I brought my camera so I could get photos of more signs in weird or lousy English.  The day before that I had a lunch date with another friend.  I had a charity meeting and a haircut on Monday.  Are you sensing a theme here?

Normally I’m pretty good. I sit my butt down in the chair and write.  I write all kinds of things – articles, stories, and of course, even novels.  I do a newsletter for the Jewish Community Center, and I do work with a charity.  I have a lot on my plate if you include the two kids and their activities as well.

But there are some days when the discipline to be a writer just won’t come.  When I went to the Japan Writers’ Conference last week, Lauren Shannon, a wonder-woman type of human, gave a session on writing in groups and alone.  But the one thing writers do, she said, is WRITE.  She gave us all types of strategies for staying focused and getting the work done.  She suggested blocking email and facebook while writing.  She suggested different venues in which to write.  She suggested finding an accountability partner who will hold you accountable for your work, be it in chapters or time.  Those are all great suggestions, and normally I can do one or more of them daily.  As much as I love writing, I also most often love the act of sitting in my chair (and it’s a GREAT chair) and being in front of that computer.   This week, however, even the great chair holds no charm.  It’s a slow week.

Today is one of those days.  Can’t be perfect every day.  I am going to let it go.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll write 3000 words that will make me leap with joy.  One never knows.

That’s the great part about days like today: THEY END.

“Til tomorrow then.