Whether you’re a professional, amateur, or aspiring writer, you know consistency is key to success. Yet it's also the most difficult trait to master in the profession – especially when nobody is holding you to it. So many writers – including yours truly – often find themselves staring at a blank document, trying to will the words to appear by themselves.
But let’s face it, you cannot procrastinate forever in the name of research or seeking inspiration in life. So why not find support from a writing accountability partner to make sure you get the work done?
As the name suggests, a writing accountability partner is someone who’s making sure you’re actually writing and making progress rather than waiting for the perfect moment.
This accountability partner can be a co-writer or collaborator who needs your work to be done to move forward with their own goals, or just a fellow writer who understands the struggles and wants to help you avoid them. Your writing accountability partners can come as individuals or as a group!
Why You Need a Writing Accountability Partnership
Writing is lonely work
Creating a whole world with dozens or even hundreds of characters is a lot to take on by yourself. And if you write non-fiction, research is lonely too. Sitting alone for hours with just your thoughts can get tedious – it's definitely not good for your productivity. So having someone you can talk through your process with, share your progress, or just keep you company while you write can help you stay engaged in your work.
Writer's block is real
Every writer has been there. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the words just refuse to come. And yes, there are so many techniques to help you overcome writer's block--walking away for a bit, switching genre or style, or finding that lost inspiration. Accountability could perhaps work just as well or even better than these other techniques because you'll have someone dedicated to helping you break the dry spell and get back to work!
If you write for a living, there are already people depending on you to finish your work –your publishers and editor for one. And maybe you even have fans! But as a creative, you're not inclined to work with time limits, which may end up delaying the gratification you and others need from that finished piece. You can avoid such disappointments by having your writing buddy or accountability partner enforce some deadlines on you and ensure you’re meeting them.
Fresh, honest eyes are always helpful
The more you write, the harder it is for you to assess and critique your work objectively. Having another pair of eyes that you trust will help you keep your work interesting, fix those gaps you create in the narrative, and even acknowledge when something just isn't working.
A Writing Partner vs A Writing Group
As we discussed, you can team up with one partner or a group for accountability. If you’re confused as to which option would work best for you, here are some points to keep in mind:
A writing accountability partner allows for more one-on-one meetings and time for conversation and feedback. If it's someone you know well, you can trust them with your unpublished work and know that any feedback they provide comes from a good place.
But while they may be honest with feedback, sometimes they too can miss providing newer perspectives if they're too used to your style and thinking processes. Importantly, they could also be worried about upsetting you and hence may tone down what they really think.
A writing accountability group, on the other hand, means the benefit of having more eyes and perspectives on your work. The members of your writing community can come from different demographics, so you already have the benefit of a diverse set of critics. And, it’s more likely you’ll get to hear from people who don't just want to please you.
But you’ll have to be careful about how much of your work you share if you do not know each member well. You do need an overall balance of encouraging and blunt criticism to help you get a well-rounded view of your work.
Where to find writing accountability partners
Writers of all genres are part of or aware of a network, community, or organization that fits their vibe – be it a group for amateur writers, writers of a specific genre like non-fiction or mystery, or even a network for writers of particular demographics. Find one and interact with people to see who can be your writing accountability partner.
If you’re more comfortable communicating online, join writers' groups on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit for advice, critique, tips, ideas, and support from other users. Just be sure to not fall deep into the rabbit hole and end up getting distracted from your writing instead!
Start a blog
If you thrive under pressure, start a blog where you update followers on your writing progress and invite them to keep you accountable. The constant scrutiny and pressure to update will ensure you make progress, and also generate some much-welcome buzz and excitement for your next work!
Accountability apps like Beeminder and Stickk help you meet your writing goals or face a financial penalty. There are even specific ones for writing, like Toggl Track and Write or Die, that are designed to help with the specific problems you may face.
How to Work With Writing Accountability Partners
Set an agenda
Agree on proper deadlines for submitting progress. This also involves setting proper goals--so why not try SMART goals? An example of this would be, instead of just promising your writing buddy you'll write this week, say you'll write 5,000 words in seven days by spending an hour on writing every day. The agenda-setting also includes scheduling the time and frequency of your catchups with your partner, so you're both on the same page!
If your partner/group also dabbles in the field, try to schedule sessions to work together. Do some exercises together like writing prompts or word sprints for practice and to keep things fun while you work.
After a writing practice, have a story swap so you can give feedback on each other’s work. Even if they’re not writers, give them feedback on other areas such as how they’re keeping you accountable or sharing their opinions.
This brings us to the most important tip – iterate and improve upon the relationship. Be honest with your partner/group about what kind of motivation, accountability partnership, and feedback you're looking for, whether the process is helping you, and how you can continue to work together.
Writing is a difficult, lonely process! An accountability partner might be the best way to make it fun – and also make sure you're getting work done!
If you're staring at a blank piece of paper or an empty Word document right now, wondering how to get started, here are some more articles you might like!
- Why Can't I Finish Anything, you ask? Here's why.
- How to Do Something You Don't Want to Do
- Why You Should Time Box (Plus Time Box Templates)
- Becoming Is Better Than Being