We all know writing can be a solitary pursuit. One of the most difficult things about working by yourself is holding yourself accountable. Here are five tips to keep yourself on track.
1. Find a Writing Buddy
In a solitary profession, it’s easy to think Who’s going to know if I watch Netflix instead of finishing this chapter? Make sure somebody does know—somebody who cares about your productivity and wants to see you succeed. Find a writing buddy, and share with each other your personal goals. Do you want to write a certain number of words each week? Do you want to submit to a certain number of markets? Do you want to simply put pen to paper every day? Share your goals with each other, and then commit to checking in once a week. The knowledge that you’re going to have to face another human being and either say yes I got my stuff done or no I didn’t can help drive you over those rough patches when the draw of doing anything but writing seems almost too strong to resist.
2. Track Your Progress
Writing is an artistic profession; productivity isn’t always about numbers. But unfortunately, it’s difficult to measure artistic growth. So choose something you can measure. The simplest is word count. Scrivener has a great tool for doing that. It’s called Project Targets, and it gives you a simple, visual estimation of your progress. Another great option is to create something—a poster or bullet journal—to track your progress. Create a chart or image you can check off or color in as you reach milestones. The physical action will help you feel a sense of accomplishment, and the chart will serve as a visual reminder of your progress.
3. Make it Public
Nothing drives productivity like knowing someone’s watching. So why not make sure a lot of people are watching? Social media can be a distraction, but you can use it to your advantage. Post writing updates on your blog. Maybe include a word count chart in your sidebar. Tweet about your writing session before you start, and when you’re finished, tweet how many words you wrote. Allow your social media friends to push you and celebrate with you. Head over to YouTube, and check out Manuscript Monday videos, where writers chat about their works in progress. Watching the videos can be incredibly inspiring, and if you’re brave enough, grab a camera and make a Manuscript Monday video of your own. Set a goal one Monday, and then share whether you reached it the next.
4. Set Goals with Rewards
Speaking of setting goals, give them some oomph by attaching rewards. Try promising yourself a relaxing movie night or a trip to your favorite restaurant—but only if you reach your goal. Attaching rewards like this will not only drive you to meet your goals, but will also give you a chance to celebrate your achievement.
5. Remember Why
No matter how many tricks you have for holding yourself accountable, none of them will ever work if you forget why you’re writing in the first place. Remind yourself what drives you to write. Vocalize it, even if it’s just to the mirror. Write it down and pin it to your bulletin board. Set it as your desktop background. Take a moment out of your day to close your eyes and remember specifically why you do what you do. With that thought in your mind, holding yourself accountable will be a breeze. You’ll know exactly what is driving you.
Don’t forget to leave a comment. Tell us how you hold yourself accountable!