Why Accountability Matters for Writers

What makes one writer show up at a certain time every day to write while another writer can’t find the time? A system of accountability.

What this means is that when you have to report in, you’re more likely to show up. We all know that if we only showed up for work three out of every five days, our bosses would have a problem with that.

Who makes sure you show up to write each day?

For most writers, the answer is: no one. And that’s why they procrastinate in the kitchen or reorganize their laundry room during their scheduled writing time.

If someone expects you to show up, you’ll show up. Even if you’re tired. Even if you think you’ve got nothing to say.

Since writing is a solitary profession, many writers stumble to find consistency. Don’t they need to be in the mood to write? What if the Muse fails to join them at the page?

What they need is someone to hold them accountable.

Anyone can be an accountability partner but pairing up with another writer gives you an additional boost. Those days when the magic is gone, a fellow writer can empathize and offer encouragement.

Best of all, their understanding will bolster you so you can get your rear back into the chair where you can write the words.

Here are some ways to set up an accountability system:

  • Goals with rewards (Write 1,000 words get to read for an hour)
  • Reporting to an accountability buddy
  • Swapping what you write with another writer for feedback (one writer I know is expected to do this three days per week and imagines her partner waiting impatiently by her computer until she sends it)
  • Set a deadline (if you contract with a publisher, they will give you one)
  • Set office hours and formulate the currency you’ll pay with (8-10 AM Saturday with one new book purchase as the paycheck)

For most of my writing career, I’ve used the rewards payment accountability system. Until I slid into creative burnout, it worked well and I wrote a dozen novellas published by indie presses.

When you’re setting up an accountability system, don’t be afraid to try different things. It may take a few misses before you hit on a winning method.

Or you might find what works this year, stops working next year. Get back to the drawing board and find another system.

Do you struggle with accountability? If you’re not sure, take this quiz to discover what is Kryptonite to your writing.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.