“Surround yourself with people who motivate you.” I’ve heard this sort of thing at a lot of the panels and workshops I have attended. It is often easier said than done.
I live in a tiny town in South-Western Wyoming. When we first moved here, I joined a writers group and hoped that I would find that sense of kinship with them. Though they were fantastic people, most of them wrote poetry not fiction. I continued to attend the group for awhile but eventually, I stopped going because I was on a very different path. I did end up finding someone to help me though, and truly, having an accountability partner makes all the difference for me.
Find Someone Who Helps You Stay Accountable
The awesome thing about the age of the internet, is that you don’t have to live close to someone to find a person with common interests. I met one of my best friends in an online writing community. She had just started her PhD program and I had just gotten serious about pursuing this writing thing and getting more stuff published. It was a good match, because we decided to pull each other along. Even though our goals eventually caused us to go in different directions, for two solid years we emailed and chatted on the phone about what we were working on and the progress we had made.
I think that’s truly what you need to find, a person or group of people who help you stay accountable to your goals. This should be people who make you feel good about your craft and aren’t afraid to be honest with you. It can take time to build these relationships, but they are great for motivation and These relationships do take time. Right now, a writer friend and I share a google document that has weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Each Friday, he and I check in with each other and report back on the progress we’ve made.
He and I cheerlead, scold and motivate each other, because we both know that if Friday rolls around and we haven’t done anything, we’re going to have to admit it. This accountability will make it so I get 1-2 things done off my list, which is 1-2 things more than I would have done if I didn’t have to report back to someone. There are lots of great ways to check in, you can use email, a google doc, a weekly call or coffee date.
Some People Probably Won’t Help You Stay Accountable
As a writer, I often interact with people who say things like “Oh, I want to write, I have a whole novel planned in my head but I have never started it.” These people are nice, but they aren’t the kind of people you want to connect with. They are what I would call “dreamers” and though there’s nothing wrong with being a “dreamer” but you likely want to take things further.
You want to be both a “dreamer” and a “do-er.” If you get an accountability partner and weeks go by without them making any forward progress, it may be time to gently let them go. If they shift from being a dreamer to a do-er in the future, you can absolutely pick them back up again.
The main thing you want from an accountability partner, is someone one who pushes you to do more and be better. Once you’ve found that, you’ll find it helps a ton in progressing toward the goals you have set! Now, go out and find an awesome person who motivates you!