Be Accountable to Someone


Be Accountable to Someone

There's a lot of talk about accountability these days. Based on the successes and failures of various schools, we can conclude pretty confidently that accountability is important for students; if a student, and all of his or her achievement and labor, is accountable to someone, that will give the student an enormous boost. That lesson is one we can all learn from. Today I want to talk about why being accountable to someone is crucial for your creative writing.

You are a bad cop.

This is the first hard truth that writers need to realize: we are actually very bad at policing ourselves. Let's be honest: on the whole, we're terrible at it. This is true in any area of life that requires willpower and discipline; for example, dieters fall on and off the wagon constantly, as do exercisers. Willpower is a finite resource, and we will save it for when it really counts - that is, for when we will have to be showing results to people other than ourselves.

The only way to get disciplined, therefore, is to admit what we can't do! Sometimes that is working and writing without accountability. Your accountable person or persons can be a close friend, a relative, a significant other, or a writing group, as long as it is someone whose esteem you value, someone who will hold you to your pledge. You will always have an excuse for yourself; other people won't accept excuses so easily.

Writers thrive on community.

Here's another reason that being accountable to someone is a great idea. While some writing must take place alone, a great deal of the writing life could benefit from community. We use community to validate our artistic choice, to remind ourselves that others are struggling with the same issue, and to have people to turn stories in to. I think the element of community is particularly important for women writers; while all the books that get reviewed or get all the attention may seem to be by men, having a writing community that includes women can help us remember that women writers are out there. If you're accountable to another writer, you'll be motivated to turn in something that is up to a high standard.

It's important to remember that we work best when we acknowledge the web of interdependence we're all a part of. This is true of even supposedly solitary disciplines like writing. So reach out and find someone who will keep you honest.