Jessica Bates

writer | reader | mother | lover

July 21, 2017

writing accountability: stay focused on your writing goals

meet writing goalsWriting is often a solitary game. The bulk of it happens when you’re alone, sitting at your computer or scribbling away at your desk. This is a beautiful thing, but it’s also isolating. How do you keep yourself motivated to meet your writing goals? Personally, I do a lot better with accountability. Actual human people asking me questions about my work. How do I find that? Writing groups & writing accountability buddies.

Find a Writing Group

I’ve been working over the last few years to take myself more seriously as a writer. I joined a writing group. They were essential to me publishing my first book of poems Birth & What Came After. We meet monthly. There are a variety of writers, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays. It’s a real free for all, and it’s wonderful. We’ve set it up so that you can share and ask for feedback or you can just share for the fun of it. Having a physical place to go each month is great for motivation.

You can probably find a writing group in your area online. If not, START ONE! Meet at a local coffee shop or even open up your home if you feel comfortable.

Find Virtual Writing Buddies

Recently, I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw an intriguing post. Something like “Hey, is anyone writing a novel? I want an accountability partner.” And I jumped on it. I am writing a novel. (I used to say revising, but hell, I’m still “writing”, let’s be honest.) I sent him a DM & ten minutes later we were on the phone discussing our novels and our writing goals and vowing to check in with each other once a week. It’s only been three weeks, and it’s been a good writing relationship. I think we bring different things to the table and help each other. Last week he asked me the exact right questions about my book’s plot and its characters. My gears are turning, and I’m just now seeing how to tie this beast together. Thanks to my writing accountability buddy Patrick!

Then I saw a post from my girl Annabelle Fern, whom I’ve been following on IG for who knows how long. She mentioned getting serious about finishing her novel & short story collection. I’m writing a novel AND I have a short story collection hanging in the ether. So I’m all, Hey Annabelle, wanna be writing buddies and keep each other motivated? And she said yes! We haven’t started digging in yet, but we will soon. Annabelle is a mother, too, and she’s self published a lovely short story collection called The Unfolding. So we have a lot in common, and I think it will be a fruitful relationship.

Finding a writing buddy online may be more serendipitous. You may follow someone on social media who writes in your genre, or is writing something you’re interested in. Reach out, ask if they need a writing friend to keep them on track. Then set up a time or schedule to check in that works for both of you.

So, even though writing happens when you’re alone (or in a crowded coffee shop pretending you’re alone), it really really helps to have someone asking you, “Hey, how’s your writing going?” My writing friends even know details. They can ask about plot points, or how a certain character is coming along. It helps. Writing in a vacuum is difficult. It’s a lot more fun with friends. Plus it keeps you moving forward. Or, it keeps me moving forward.

Do you have a writing accountability partner? Do you frequent a writing group? What helps you be productive? What keeps you focused on your writing goals? I’d love to know; drop me a line.

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writing - Jessica Bates