Are you a productive and persistent writer?
There are scholars and writers that have the internal motivation and persistence to write essays, papers, articles, and books even when they’re nervous or doubt themselves. Not everyone feels that way. Some of us need to increase our writing accountability so that we write and accomplish our goals.
Writing accountability is what keeps you going when your work seems dull or confusing or you would rather be doing something else. It’s not the most fun aspect of writing, but it is one of the most effective ways to become a productive and excellent writer.
Some people have a natural sense of writing accountability, and they can write every day. If that’s you, wonderful!
If not, don’t worry. You can learn it and make it a part of your writing life.
5 Ways to Create Writing Accountability
Each of these tips helps writers become more accountable and productive. I suggest you test each of these and see which ones work best for you.
#1 Schedule your writing time on a calendar and keep the appointment.
I recommend to my students that they plan a date and time to write. Mark this on a calendar or planner. Google Calendar lets you set up reminders so that you won’t forget it. You could also use an Echo, Echo Dot or something similar to verbally prompt you to get writing.
Show up for your scheduled date and time and start writing. I block out writing times on my Google Calendar, just like I set up any other appointment. Writing is a part of your work, so pencil it in!
#2 Use positive reinforcement (reward or cheer for yourself).
Rewards give you an extra boost or a sense of satisfaction because you recognize what you achieved or accomplished. A reward inspires you to keep up that success.
They are also a key part of creating a writing habit. The three parts of any habit are trigger, action, and reward. You reward yourself when you’ve done the activity or task of the habit. Writing habits make it easier for you to write daily without having to get psyched up or into the right mood to write.
If you want to learn more about writing habits check out my blog post, “10 Terrific Tips That Will Turn You Into A Great Academic Writer” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/10-terrific-tips-that-will-turn-you-into-a-great-academic-writer/.
#3 Create and enforce a negative consequence for not reaching your goal.
Negative consequences work well in certain situations. In a class, if you don’t finish an essay or paper you get a zero, or if you hand it in late your grade is dropped.
They also work beyond courses with other projects you do. You can set up your own negative consequences.
One idea for a negative consequence is to force yourself to do something you dislike if you don’t complete your writing goal. For example, I am a vegetarian, so spending a day cooking some meat-oriented meal sounds awful. Even worse would be taking a picture of it and sending it to my friends.
You could also do something where you would have to donate money to a cause or organization you oppose. Can you think of an organization you would hate to give money to if you don’t accomplish your writing project?
Whatever consequence you decide on should be something you have to prove that you have done. I suggest taking photos of the activity.
The negative consequence method does not work for everyone. I don’t use this method, but I know people who find it really motivating.
#4 Go public with what you intend to do and when.
Post on social media your writing goal and when you will complete it. Follow it up with updates about your progress. If you aren’t on social media, you can tell your family and/or friends what you will do and when.
Ask different people to check up on you and make sure you are doing your writing. Tell them to call you, text you, email you and nag you until you complete your work.
# 5 Create or join an accountability group.
Writing accountability groups or partners work well because they push you to write and encourage you to reach your goal. When you are accountable to other people you want to show and share your progress. Accountability groups also help you figure out your obstacles and how to overcome them.
When it comes to my own writing, accountability groups work better for me than anything else. If you have struggled in the past with writing accountability these groups will help you focus and get your writing done.
Types of Writing Accountability Groups
There are 2 types of writing accountability groups you can try.
The first is a General Writing Accountability Group where anyone from any genre can join. The second type is a Genre-Focused Writing Accountability Group. Each group focuses on helping you finish writing projects.
The difference is that being in a Genre-Focused Writing Accountability Group gives you the chance to give and get better feedback on the work you do. If you write fiction, poetry, or academic writing, you will get more advice, feedback, and tips specific to that type of writing if you are among writers in the same genre.
If you decide to create an accountability group, there are 8 keys that will help make the group effective.
8 Steps to Successful Writing Accountability Groups
1. In the first meeting, learn about each other and each person’s big writing vision and a large goal.
2. Have each member brainstorm what is a sensible goal in the near future that will help him/her reach their vision. Write SMART Goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound. For example, I will write a draft of my book on Irish genealogy by June 28th, 2019.
3. Set deadlines for writing goals and share them with each other. Bonus tip: Keep a group calendar where everyone can list their deadlines.
4. List all the things you need to do to accomplish that goal.
5. Break up the list and write the goals and the actions you need take to reach a 30, 60 or 90-day goal.
6. Then create the goals for each meeting.
7. Set up a regular schedule for meetings once a week, once every 2 weeks, etc. The closer your meetings are, the more drive you will have to get things done.
8. Every meeting is focused on the progress everyone made. During the meeting you:
- Decide what you and everyone else needs to do next.
- Get suggestions and advice on anything that is challenging. You may need to re-think the approach you’re taking or maybe you just need more encouragement
- Talk about any issues you feel are keeping you from reaching your goals like finding time to write, etc.
- Wrap-up each meeting with a goal you will reach for the next meeting and a plan on how you will do it. Plans are really important: they are the way you reach your goal.
Challenge yourself to become a more productive writer.
Look through these writing accountability tips and see what will work for you, but be willing to change your approach. You may start with only 1 or 2 things and find you need to add more, or vice versa. The secret for me is to involve other people which is why I belong to 2 different accountability groups.
What things will you do to increase your writing accountability? Comment and share your ideas below!
Also, if you need accountability to help you with your academic writing then sign-up for my Free Webinar: 3 Secrets to Excelling at Academic Writing and Succeeding in College and Graduate School! https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/3-secrets-to-excelling-at-academic-writing-webinar/