by Karen Ball Okay, everyone out there who has:
- tried, over and over, to be accountable to someone or something, and failed…
- started any number of wonderful endeavors, only to have the energy/motivation/time commitment fizzle out…
- set a word count, then revised…and revised…and revised…and…yeah, you get the idea…
- given yourself a deadline to finish your article/proposal/query/book/whatever, only to fall behind within the first week…
Anyone who has ever struggled with feeling like a big, fat failure because you can’t do what you want/need to do in the time you want/need to do it, raise your hand. C’mon now, lift ‘em high. I’m betting the majority of us could, without hesitation, shoot our hands straight up to the ceiling. Odd, isn’t it, how hard it is to do the things we want to do. Things we even love to do, like writing. We writers are word people. We love words, love creating them, savoring them, sharing them. We want to write, to finish what we’ve started, to even—gasp!—turn our work in early. We start out fully intending to do exactly that, only to find ourselves, down the road, so far behind we know we’ll never catch up. Sure, there are reasons. Sure, some of those reasons are even good. But bottom line, we have to face the fact that we just can’t, as comedian Larry the Cable Guy says, “Git ‘er done.”
So, what’s a writer to do? Well, one step is to add accountability partners to your team. I’m not talking about people who rag on you, who take you to task for not, well, accomplishing a task. This isn’t about people who will make you feel guilty or lazy or worthless. Quite the opposite! I’m talking about finding partners who will walk alongside you in ways that will draw the best efforts out of you, who will work with you to help you accomplish what you want to accomplish. I’m talking about team members who are for you, who will encourage and (when needed) challenge, and who will help you overcome your greatest obstacle: yourself. Take a stroll through Scripture, and you’ll see plenty of verses that can be applied to doing something along these lines:
- “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
- “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- “Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. …we urge you to …encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11,14)
- “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10)
So next week, we’ll look at the hows and wherefores of developing these valuable members of your writing team. But first, I want to know a couple of things. First, how do you react to the idea of having team members to hold you accountable? Second, have any of you have tried this kind of thing already? If so, what worked? What didn’t? What do you wish you’d done different?
How do I react to the idea? I’d love to have someone like you describe. It feels like you’ve been reading my mail–my hand is high in the sky in response to your questions. Why is it so hard to do the things we want to do? Anyway, I look forward to your suggestions in future posts, and to hearing what other readers have done that works.
Especially needed the scriptures today Karen, thanks! :0
Karen, such wise words. Remembering Scriptures helps me to give myself grace when I fall short of goals or expectations I’ve set for myself. And the ones you shared are encouraging.
Having an encourager/exhorter is helpful also. She gives me perspective when I can’t see things clearly.
Nancy B. Kennedy
I don’t know… maybe it’s the difference between being an extrovert and an introvert. Nothing is more motivating to me than my own desire to write. I live for a good deadline! The idea of being surrounded by a “team” is a little scary. Oh, yeah, about that great cloud of witnesses? Will have to gear myself up for that!
Several years ago, three of us at Mount Hermon decided to form an accountability team. Sarah Sundin, Marcy Weydemuller and myself lived in different areas and wrote in different genres, but we all needed to be pushed to meet deadlines and critiqued in what we were working on.
The first Monday of each month we would print off what we had worked on as well as a goals sheet for the following month and a few prayer requests for our families and writing. We would put the packets together and send them to the other two peeps. The following month we would receive edits and critiques of the sent manuscript and a new packet to review from the other gals. Since we were all busy, being able to have the hard copies made it easy to track and read since we could take them to soccer practices… piano lessons… and it kept us accountable to the moths goals we had set for ourselves.
We did this for about two years and I love going through the old pages of requests and goals. It was before Sarah’s first book was published or I had won the Guideposts contest, it was when the other Marcy was writing in a genre that I wasn’t familiar with, but soon grew to appreciate. It taught us about editing, accountability and the importance of friendship.
We don’t use snail mail anymore and the small group has discontinued due to being under other deadlines, but I would have to say we would all agree that those years were precious. As a result we still work together to better out writing. We each brought to our trio different insight and different strengths.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Marci, amen to your last line! I’m blessed to have 3 teams, each offer accountability in different ways. The one I’m most active in is an online critique group that provides a super safe atmosphere. I’m going to gush about it right now. It has been God send. Each Monday, a member posts an accountability thread. If you want to be a part of it that week, you simply list your writing goals. It can range from thinking about a character arch, to outlining a scene to editing two chapters. Whatever your heart desires! Then those writers part of the thread ra-ra one another to meet those goals. Sometimes goals are met and we celebrate together with a victorious high five, fun link or 🙂 And if the goals weren’t met, the encouragement keeps going. This weekly online accountability has worked wonders and it’s joyous fun. I am a sanguine so I’m all about the more the merrier, but even those who aren’t, participate and have seen their writing mojo kicked up.
Karen, your verses nailed the theme for this post. You go girl!
Ah yes, no follow through…I’m a dreamer. Big picture person. Yesterday, I realized it has been 6 years since I outlined my book and the dream of writing became real. I started with condemnation, “You have been writing for six years and still have not finished one substantial project?”
The precious Holy Spirit gently reminded me, “You are still writing, in the last six years you have had two babies, moved four times, and homeschool. You are still writing.” I was overcome by peace. Total peace.
This post was timely. I am still plugging along. I am blessed that despite my beautiful active life, my husband fully supports my dream, live in accountability. I am looking forward to part two.
I absolutely treasure my “writing” accountability partner and highly recommend having one.
We do not exchange writing advice at all. We do not exchange critiques. We connect by email sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, depending on what’s up. We share our goals and prayer requests. We pray for each other, offer encouragement, and cheer each other on. We celebrate when we achieve our goals and urge to persevere when we don’t.
She has these fabulous emoticons in her email service and usually includes several goofy faces in her encouraging notes that give me a smile.
Knowing she’ll be asking me to “report in” often keeps me at the keyboard when I’m tempted to call it a day. Knowing she is praying for me is priceless. 😉
NOT exchanging critiques sounds like a key part of the process. Thanks for sharing how this works for you. How did you find your accountability partner? I know I need one.
Suzanne, I feel lead to pray for you about this for the week. I know I’m repeating myself, but my writing teams have been a God send and I believe that if you’re really seeking an accountability partner, the Lord will provide just the right person(s) for you! 🙂
I can see so much benefit to accountability, but I’m not sure how to make it work. Looking forward to your future posts, and I need to send a message to my CP!
Did you write this just for me?
Yesterday I read an article about having somebody to be accountable to, and today I’m reading your post.
I frequently log into #1K1HR and love the fellowship there, but I think I do need one person to hold me accountable.
Thanks for sharing!
I tried this with a writer friend, but it didn’t work as we both “fell off the wagon” at about the same time and felt guilty “encouraging” each other.
However, I’m sure this is exactly what I need, so I look forward to your suggestions of how to put the team together.
My partner and I aren’t so much about the external goals as the internal state of heart and mind. I have other people along the way that I can contact to share milestones, and we do that too, but we mostly try to focus on nurturing each other’s sense of peace and of what we’re called to as writers.
Neither of us needs to manage word counts, and we both have no problem meeting deadlines. So we try to help each other stay glued to the quality of what we write and the heartfelt, purposeful side of it. He’s excellent for knocking down artificial obstacles in my thinking, and I hope I do a decent job of encouraging him to be his unique self, as he has an unusual giftedness.
So I guess it’s more about being held accountable to stay true to God and the calling we have from Him. The rest flows from that.
I have had wonderful accountability partners. A lone writer has way too many distractions, so we need someone to give us a push (mostly off of facebook). My current partner, Gina Conroy, does a good job of nudging me without beating me up. She has a hectic life, too, so we share the pain.