Thursday, 29 March 2018

Ink Tip: Dos and Don'ts of Accountability Buddies

Writing is solitary.  No matter how many voices and worlds live inside a person's head and how real they feel, in the end it's just the author and a keyboard (or paper and pen if they prefer old school).  Add in the fact that most authors also have jobs they need to pay the bills, and all the other things that can complicate life and it becomes clear why sometimes letting the words flow isn't as easy as it sounds.

Inspiration is going to strike any second now.
Or maybe now.
How about now?
One of the ways to overcome life-induced inertia is to pair up with an accountability buddy.  It's a fairly simple concept: pick someone and then each day or each week or each month, you have to tell them how much you've written.  But setting up your accountability buddy can be more complicated than it sounds.  The wrong type can actually end up discouraging an author instead of encouraging them.  So here are some suggestions from my own experience with accountability buddies.

First question to look at: do you actually do better if you have someone to be accountable to?  

Not everyone likes having to share their successes and failures with another person.  If the idea of having to tell someone that you've failed to meet your writing goal is something that is going to gnaw at you, casting a pall over your writing time, then an accountability buddy isn't the best system to get your fingers moving.  But if admitting failure lights a fire under you, then the next step is to find the right accountability buddy.

Second question: how competitive are you?

I've had a few accountability buddies over the years and I've discovered that I have to be careful.  If my buddy is too productive, I feel discouraged.  My first buddy regularly wrote between 5000 and 10 000 words a day, at a time when I was doing amazing if I wrote over 500 words in a day.  My second buddy didn't write more days than she did, and so it didn't drive me.  Because she wasn't writing, it was easier to tell myself that I'd write tomorrow.

If you're competitive then you need to make sure that you don't feel like you're losing to your accountability buddy.  If you're more on the congratulate and celebrate side of the spectrum, then your buddy's output isn't as critical.

Which leads to our next step: what are the rules going to be?

Do you want your buddy to kick your butt if you don't make your writing goals?  Or would you rather have encouragement and pats on the back?  How often do you want to share?  Daily?  Weekly?  Monthly?  Do you have to share if you have a 0 word day?  Do you share privately or on a public forum?

Having a buddy should feel good.  It can be a great feeling to be able to tell someone "I did it!" and know that they will understand how good that can feel.   Having someone to celebrate with can make this solitary profession a little easier.  

Big thanks to my accountability buddy @LBoota and her amazing gifs of encouragement that keep me going.

Previous Ink Tip: Punctuation and Grammar (Comprehension vs Consistency)

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