Accountability. No matter how I try to sidestep this particular word, it keeps coming to me as I ponder my goals for 2017.
A friend posted one of those “fun” activities on Facebook where people are asked to comment. I don’t often participate in these types of things, but this one sounded interesting. It asked readers to come up with a word for the year that started with the third letter of their name.
Accountability. It was out of my brain onto the Facebook page before I could even think about it.
Next, I received a message from our esteemed moderator explaining that this month’s prompt, should we choose to accept it, was discussing a one-word theme for the year. Accountability was the first thing that came to mind.
When I look back at last year, I lament the fact that I didn’t accomplish many of the items on my writing to-do list. I have many reasons, of course. Excuses, actually. Sure there were family issues, technology crashes, and various other commitments. But if I said I didn’t have time, I would be lying. The fault lies in that I was accountable to no one but myself.
I work well under pressure. I am my most productive when I have a deadline. I’ve written to contract a couple of times in the past after pitching an idea, or being part of a collaborative writing team, and it really helped boost my productivity. The fact that I was accountable to other people meant I kept my focus sharp.
However, these days I’m more apt to watch a good TV show (or even a not-so-good one) than sit down at my computer and do the work. The strange thing is, it’s not that I don’t love writing, because I do. But the human psyche is twisted that way. It’s easier to get sidetracked than to sit down and do something productive. It reminds me of what Paul said when he says he doesn’t do what he aught but does what he doesn’t want to do instead. (My clumsy paraphrase.)
So what is one to do when there aren’t external deadlines looming? Well, how about creating some accountability?
One way of doing this is to tell others. Yep, it’s a pretty simple concept but an effective one. I’ve gone ahead and published my intentions for the year in both my newsletter and on my blog. I’m even thinking of making a “coming soon” page on my website of all the books I plan to write, publish, or re-release this year. (And it’s quite a stack, I must admit.)
Another great idea is to find another writer with whom to be accountable. I am very excited about a new InScribe initiative that we’re preparing to roll out called “Writing Buddies.” The idea was sparked at last fall’s conference when Carolyne Aarsen, our VIP day guest speaker, mentioned that she and another writing friend committed to be one another’s “writing buddy” after attending conference. This was before she went on to become a million plus selling author.
Writing Buddies is still in the development phase, but our ultimate vision is to create a database of writers who are looking for one-on-one encouragement, accountability, and candid feedback, and then hook them up with another writer with common interests, goals, and experience. The current goal is to find a few pairs willing to commit to a six-month trial period, agreeing to contact each other at least once a week to talk about their writing goals, barriers, and other related topics. I see a writing buddy as less of a critique partner or mentor and more of an encourager to motivate perseverance. We’re still developing a questionnaire, but keep checking the website for details as they develop.
Ultimately, I am accountable for my time. How I choose to spend that time is entirely up to me. That’s where you come in. I’m counting on you to keep my accountable.
Tracy Krauss writes from her home in northern British Columbia. She has learned to ignore FEAR’s constant chatter and chooses instead to keep writing and submitting all kinds of stuff – good, bad, and otherwise.
http://tracykrauss.com (fiction on the edge without crossing the line)