Being accountable

In my last post, I said I was getting back to a good writing schedule since the hurricane. Well, let me change that to I’m trying to get back to a good writing schedule.

This past week was pretty good. I wrote every morning except one. And then this morning, despite good intentions, I haven’t yet opened my novel document. I have been getting up at 6 am, or at least, snoozing until 6:30, but it’s still pitch black at that time, making it hard to drag myself out of bed. Late nights also don’t help, of course.

But most of all, it’s laziness on my part. Sure my day job is busy, and there are things I want to do around the house. But most of all, I think it’s because in the back of my mind, there’s nothing to keep me accountable. I haven’t been to our critique group since the hurricane. (There was one meeting right after, but no one could make it.) And because I don’t have that connection with writers, it’s easy for me to do something else. A friend from our critique group emailed me the other day saying she felt similarly. She said she had been all over the place since the hurricane and hasn’t done a bit of writing in a month. She too was looking forward to the next critique group meeting to get that inspiration fellow writers can provide.

Writing is so solitary, that unless the desire is really driving us, it’s easy for us to put it off today, and then the next day, and the next, until, before you know it, you haven’t written in a couple of months. That’s where critique groups can really help. Being around fellow writers inspires us to keep putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

My husband and I vowed to workout every week day for a month before the hurricane, and I made up calendars so we could tick off the days. During the hurricane, all that stopped and since the hurricane, it took us a while to get back to it. But we did three days last week, and my husband suggested we make up a calendar that has four months on it instead of just one to inspire us to keep going. I decided I would also use my calendar for my writing.

Having something to make you accountable can help pull you through the dry times, when you don’t feel like writing. There are plenty of days we don’t feel like going to work, but our jobs pay us, and if we don’t do them, that pay cheque will go away. That keeps us accountable, keeps us coming back.

With our own writing, there is no pay check … at least, not yet. Our ultimate goal is to sell our work, whether getting it published for an article, short story or book, or selling a screenplay. Either way, we hope that one day, our work will provide us with a pay check. Of course, there’s no guarantee of that pay check at the end. There’s just hope. But writing also gives us so much more while we’re doing it: creative outlet, feeling of accomplishment, the joy of living with our characters and our worlds outside of our own lives for that time that we’re in front of our computer or notebook. The journey of writing is a reward in of itself; the pay check, if we get it, is bonus.

So, when we think of putting our writing on the back burner — as I have been doing lately — we should remember two things: Firstly, without writing, we’re missing out on the creative journey and feeling of satisfaction it gives us knowing we have done something for ourselves today. Secondly, the longer it takes for us to finish the writing (and revising, and revising, and revising), the longer it will be before we have a chance to get that pay check.

Writing might not have a pay-off that we can identify immediately, but it is there, and that should also help keep us accountable, and writing.

All right, that said, I’m going to print out my four-month workout/writing calendar — and I’m going to make sure every single day is filled in.

How are you getting on with your writing? What are your distractions? What are the things that keep you accountable with your writing?

Write On!

3 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    Heya! I can/cannot relate to this. I am 14 and typically write in the evening, but I have no plan, no calendar and hence no idea what to write–the difficulties accumulate.

    What are your distractions?

    Blogging/planning/evil evil homework.

    What are the things that keep you accountable with your writing?

    Ah, little these days…

    Best of luck!

  2. Yeah, homework can be a distraction, but a necessary one. School for you is the equivalent of a day job for us older writers.

    But keep up with your writing, and don’t let blogging/planning/evil evil homework get in your way.

    You’re never too young to write a novel, screenplay, short story, whatever you’re into.

    Write On!

  3. The Internet! Definitely my biggest distraction. Even when I’m deeply into research on a book — oh, look, shiny!

What do you think?