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The Best Thing You Can Have As A Writer (And In Life) Is Accountability


It is one of those words.

A word which can either make the ‘A Type’ personality in you beam in eager anticipation in the delight of  feedback or cause you to wilt with reluctance and eye up any possibly exits.

Although, more and more recently, I’ve realized it is absolutely crucial to being a successful writer aaaaaaand… well a successful anything really.

Like it or not, if left to our own devices, more often than not people default.

I mean think about it… how often at university would you meet someone who ACTUALLY did their assessments faithfully over a period of time rather than in the week or two (or day…) before the paper was due in some kind of manic rush.

Basically never.

And if you did meet one of those people who faithfully did their papers over a longer period of time and after lifting your jaw up off of the floor you asked them how they did it they showed you their diary or planned list of systematically working through their assessments.

Accountability is key.

What is accountability? I see it as a force – either animate or inanimate – which acts to hold you to the attaining of a specific standard or goal.

Often I meet creative people who are super, super, SUPER disorganized. And when they feel the need to justify their super disorganization they just toss a shoulder and say ‘I’m a creative.’ as if it is this sacred holy thing that regular people (or people who are organized) can never understand.

Reality is this: you won’t get anywhere without accountability. Without these external factors that hold you to task to help you follow something through to completion.

Recently in a class I was teaching we had an open question time and a young girl asked me how to keep writing when you lose interest.

‘Did you have a storyline?’ I asked her.

‘Yes.’ she replied.

Hmmm… I’m thinking inside, because usually losing interest in a story happens when the story has not been successfully planned.

‘What about readers?’ I asked her after a moment racking my brains, ‘do you have someone reading your story?’

She shook her head.

When I was young, at school, and writing prolifically, I had the most amazing group of friends. Two in particular who were seriously my greatest cheerleaders when it came to my writing.

Every morning in form class they would faithfully read what I had written the night before. It was awesome because they would tell me what they thought and genuinely get on board what was happening with my characters.

That way, when I got home while a little voice in my head whispered ‘watch TV….’ a larger desire in my heart said ‘sit down and write for your friends tomorrow.’

Having accountability is hugely crucial for the creative person to be successful.

Why? Because in the heart of every creative is a performer.

And if you can start seeing accountability as a performance and you’ll set yourself up to succeed.

Of course your accountability doesn’t necessarily need to be a group of friends sitting around and reading your story writing, it could be…

Setting aside a specific time each day or every second day to write, and writing this in your diary. You could even reward yourself if you manage to achieve this little goal every week (always need an excuse to buy more nail polish as far as I am concerned)

It could be working with a collective of people who have common interests and sharing with them what you have accomplished once a month (I ALWAYS tell my students that if they are looking for their audience, look at the other kids in the class they are in because those are students with common interests, and if they act as an audience for someone, someone might be their audience.)

Sometimes setting yourself up with someone totally removed from the whole creative process can be helpful. Someone who isn’t afraid to corner you and demand to know whether you have done what you said you were going to.

Either way, accountability is crucial, and as creatives we need to embrace it rather than run from it

X Jess




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