Making accountability work for you can be a key factor in the success of both your writing and your freelance writing business.
The idea behind accountability is you set yourself up to be responsible to or accountable to another person – your accountability partner. It’s a tool any of us can use to help us move forward on a writing project, our writing business, or, in truth, almost anything including getting the bed made.
In general, it works like this:
- You pick something you need to do – maybe something you’ve got some resistance to doing.
- You let your accountability partner know you have the intention of doing it.
The fact that you’ve let someone know what you plan to do often helps you actually get it done, whatever it is.
Your accountability partner(s)
Who you pick as an accountability partner can make or break the game. You want someone who:
- Takes you seriously and wants to support you.
- Will listen to your plans without judgement and only occasional suggestions.
- Is available – to take your call, read your email, view your post, etc.
- Someone you trust.
Your accountability partner doesn’t have to be another writer, but they can be.
You certainly can have more than one accountability partner if that suits your purposes. It works best, however, if you don’t share the same plan with more than one – that dilutes the strength of the partnerships in question.
Variations on making accountability work
There are a variety of ways to make accountability work. You don’t have to stick with only one way.
Bookending for accountability
I first ran into creating accountability through bookending. I think of this as the quick way to bring accountability to something. In my case it’s usually something I don’t’ want to do, like balancing a checkbook or writing an article I’m not really interested in.
I call my accountability partner and tell her, for example, that I plan to spend 30 minutes on the book proposal. Thirty minutes later, give or take, I call her back and tell her either that I’ve done the work I promised or that I haven’t. Closing the bookend is what really makes it work. Yes, you can bookend with your partner’s answering machine – it seems to work just as well.
Making accountability work meetings
I currently have two accountability partners. The three of us meet once a week over lunch to share our wins, review of completed and uncompleted actions from the week before, upcoming business plans and the major actions we intend to take during the week.
Sharing wins sets a tone of being positive. Speaking openly about what we got done and what we didn’t is where they actual accountability takes place. Sharing business plans is mostly a way to keep the other two in the picture as it were, so they have a contest. Stating what we want to be accountable for rounds out the meeting.
This is not unlike a MasterMind group. Since our businesses are very different, I’m the writer, one is a safety engineer and the other an interior designer, ideas can be marvelously out of left field.
We’ve been meeting now for several years and that longevity is valuable – we each have a real understanding of the others, the kind of understanding that comes with time. As I look back I see that this group has been valuable to me since we first got started.
Making accountability work online
Of course, you can be accountable online – through email with accountability partners and/or through online forums.
One of the more popular threads of discussion at AboutWritingSquared.com is the Accountability Thread. Jenn Mattern at AllIndieWriters.com wrote about it in Freelance Writers: How do You Hold Yourself Accountable? Join us if you like; we’d love to have you.
Accountability helps me stay on track with, my writing and my writing business and the details of life. You can make it work for you.
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Write well and often,