I write both fiction and non-fiction. My blog posts is my non-fictional outlet, and I write and submit fictional stories of varying lengths to publishers with the goal of one day being published and getting paid for my efforts. Back in January I set my writing goals for 2017
- Write and publish 26 blog posts.
- Write six short fictional stories.
- Submit those stories to publishers.
My blog post goal is on track. I’ve published fifteen blog posts since January. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for my fiction writing. As of the writing of this post I’m not even close to writing six short stories. I’ve written two fictional stories that started short but stubbornly refused to stay that way. I realized I needed some accountability if I was going to achieve my fiction writing goals.
My goal for writing 26 blog post amounts to one blog post every 2 weeks. The blog posts haven’t always been easy. Some weeks the words seem to fly from my computer. Other weeks the topic is emotionally difficult to explore. And there’s always the weeks when I just don’t know what the hell to say. But no matter how hard or easy it was to get a blog post posted, I’ve hit my goal without fail so far this year. The reason for that is I have accountability with my blog posts. When I publish a blog post, WordPress (the software behind my website) posts the link to Facebook without any additional work from me. It also emails out a copy of the blog post to anyone who has signed up for my mailing list. Knowing I have readers on the other end of our internet connection holds me accountable and keeps me motivated. That type of accountability has worked well for the blog, but not for my fiction.
I work on my fictional stories every morning. Or, at least, I set the intention of sitting down and writing fiction every morning. This writing happens in the very small hours of the morning when most people are still asleep. I make a cup of coffee, sit down and write by the glow of my laptop screen. So I have the practice of writing down. I’ve made it a daily habit and I know approximately how many words I can get in the hour I’ve allotted in my day.
My problem was I was writing fiction in a vacuum. Except for a growing pile of rejection letters from editors, no one saw my fiction. I didn’t have the same sense of community with fiction as I do with writing blog posts. Just like blogging, some fiction writing days are easier than others. Some days it’s easy and it’s like I just have to sit back and take dictation from the universe. Other days writing fiction is like extracting a molar with a pair of pliers and no anesthetic. The combination of a bad writing day and no accountability could and has turned into several days or a week of no fiction writing. I always came back to it because of the habits I’d formed, but I had no accountability to anyone.
I talked with another writer about this, someone I trusted to give me honest feedback. She immediately recommended getting an accountability partner. I’ve heard her talk about her accountability partner before. They discuss weekly writing goals, do a daily check in via text with their writing achievements, and when some days turn to crap and nothing gets done, they report that, too, with zero guilt, but always with encouragement to try again tomorrow. She recommended I buddy up with another writer we both know who was also looking for some external accountability.
I took her advice and contacted this other writer. She agreed to be my accountability buddy. We set up some ground rules and have been texting our goals and accomplishments every day since.
I am happy to report that having an accountability buddy has worked out fantastically. When we agreed to this partnership I was struggling to finish the first draft of one of the short story that refused to stay short. The graph below is my cumulative word count for this particular story.
As you can see I had already dragged this story out for months. I meandered for a long time, had a couple of spikes of activity but then flat lined again and didn’t write anything at all. That last spike at the end is where I started texting my accountability partner every day. The graph gives me mathematical proof of how helpful it has been to inject some accountability in my fiction writing.
I am immeasurably grateful for my new Accountability Buddy. She’s made me feel connected to the writing world in a way that I didn’t have before. I hope for a long and fruitful relationship. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to send a text and let her know I met my blog post goal for today.