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Building accountability into your plan

August 30, 2013

A while back, we write of the need to develop a plan for you to be successful in your writing journey. You know, like with deadlines and milestones and even (gulp) deliverables. We didn’t mention those specifics back then, but if you’re going to have a plan, you might as well build them in. Otherwise, it’s just wishful thinking.

But…but that stuff’s no fun. It’s like work.

Ahh, young Grasshopper, you are starting to get it. I’ve been writing more or less seriously for a large number of years now. And in all that time, right up until the time my fingers hit the keys on this keyboard, I have not once given myself a firm deadline for finishing anything. In terms of finding success, that’s a bad way. It’s a way I need to ween myself from as I consider what comes in the future.

I hate deadlines. I don’t do well with them. It always makes me nervous.

Once you land that publishing contract you covet so much, your carefree days of writing when you feel the muse stir are over. They want to know when your book’s gonna be done and they want you to hit that date. It is, after all, a business. And the people running that business are held to the estimates and projections they give their bosses. What’s more, you need to establish those goals for yourself or you’ll do what I did and work on the same freaking book for 234 years.

I’m new at this. I can’t estimate it very well.

As with your writing, do the best you can and realize that you’ll learn. But set goals for yourself and hold yourself to them. If you don’t know when your first draft will be done, set a goal for the first 200 pages. Then use that goal as a guideline in finishing. After you create 200 pages, you can create a metrics of average pages per week and use that to help you plan.

But once school’s back in, my schedule goes to hell.

You can take your metric and apply a multiplier to it. Let’s say you know that September will be a really busy month and you might be able to get just half of your normal output done. Multiply your metric by .5. That still gives you something reasonable to shoot for. But in creating and applying metrics you have to keep push yourself. Do your best and forget the rest, but you also have to bring it. Don’t let yourself slack off. I, for one, have discovered solitaire on my iPad and I need to delete it so I don’t play that instead of writing.

Okay, what else can I do?

If you have a writing partner or a critique group, ask them to keep you responsible. Commit to a number of pages and report against it.

But I hate that. It’s uncomfortable. What if I don’t hit my goal?

Then you have to report that. That’s the point. Having to tell someone you didn’t do jack because there was a <insert TV or movie franchise here> marathon is something you’ll only do once.

Quit watching my TV shows and get to work, you donkey!

At the end of the day, if you want to be successful, you have to do the things it takes to get there.

Plan and hold yourself accountable.

  1. August 30, 2013 3:50 pm

    Great article. Lots of home truths here. Would you mind if I reblogged (with proper attribution and links, of course)?

  2. August 31, 2013 12:40 pm

    So I can set my own deadline.

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