Accountability: this is something that I have a problem with. I never seem to be able to hold myself to the standards that I set. Whether this be for my daily life or for my writing (we’re going to focus on the writing aspect of this today).
My freshman year of college, I told myself that I was going to write a book by the end of the year. I set a date for myself to publish on: December 19, 2019. I told everyone that I was going to self publish my book that day.
It’s June, 2020. If you can’t tell, I didn’t publish that book. So, what went wrong?
Well, I had a set schedule. I gave myself four months to write the first draft of the piece. April was going to be for my personal edits, the first half of May was rewriting the first draft. The second half of May was (you guessed it) editing again. June and July were set aside for test readers, and the rest of the year was not entirely planned, but I wanted to have my manuscript done by the end of October.
The months came and went, and I had done nothing. My problem, consistently, is motivation.
I consider myself to have a lot of creativity, and that I am constantly flowing with new ideas. My first google drive I ever made has almost 100 folders and subfolders in it. I have vivid dreams that often result in becoming part of a new story I want to tell. Motivation is the problem here because once I have the main idea, it is near impossible for me to get myself to work on anything.
I decided that I just needed to work on things whenever I did have the motivation. After all, what was the point of forcing myself to work on something that I wouldn’t end up being proud of?
November 2019 happened. I wrote over 67,000 words that month. I wrote the entirety of my play Blue Ends and edited it twice. I also wrote the majority of my unnamed Sci-fi novel (17 chapters if I remember correctly).
Why did that suddenly happen? Because it was for a class assignment. My Fiction Writing Workshop class (ENG308, respectively) participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – November). I had never finished a piece of writing that quickly in my entire life. Blue Ends was written in a matter of three days – and edited within the first week.
I held myself accountable because someone else was expecting me to do my work. Having my professor use this assignment to be the majority of my final grade made me write. Thanks, Tricia, cause without you I probably wouldn’t have started working on the skills that I’m developing now.
How do I hold myself accountable now?
As of this week, I have started using a new planner! It helps me plan out my month, week, and daily schedule. Plus, it’s also super cute! These pages are designed to help you achieve your monthly goals.
Another way I have started to try and hold myself accountable is through writing down what I want to get done as much as possible. I have my quick ideas written down on my whiteboard on my desk – so whenever I’m at my computer, I have to look at it. At work, I’ll write down sentences or phrases I think of that I want to put into a story on a piece of receipt paper. I have a list of ideas scrawled in almost every notebook in my bedroom.
I tell my friends about what I’m working on. Maybe not in detail, but they always check in on me to make sure that I’m A) doing well, and B) bounce ideas off of one another. A lot of my close friends also enjoy the arts, so it’s nice to be able to have this option to help my accountability.
Lastly, though it may seem counter productive: I give myself a break. One thing I learned in the past year is that you shouldn’t be holding yourself to such high standards all the time. Everyone needs a break. I take time each week to self-care and self-soothe myself to ensure my mentality is the best that it can be.
Holding myself accountable is hard, but I’ve found some ways to try and help myself. Let me know how you hold yourself accountable in the comments below!