Six weeks ago I enlisted the help of a dear friend and fellow writer, Jen, to hold me to the terms of a contract. I drew the contract up myself – no, I am not suddenly a lawyer – so that I would be accountable for working as a writer. I got this idea from Aimee Bender’s article in Oprah, Why the Best Way to Get Creative Is to Make Some Rules, which you should really check out if you are a writer, or you want to hold yourself to any sort of disciplined pursuit. Around the same time, I also came across this article in Redbook by Sandy M. Fernandez, Join the Accountability Club.
Both articles give great advice:
- Set a clear, attainable goal
- Tell others about it
- Ask them to hold you accountable for attaining your goal
- Check in regularly
- Attain goal
So, with these two great minds in mind I created my writing contract, phase one of which concludes today. It goes a little something like this:
Dates: September 17th to October 31st 2012 (1 ½ months)
- Write every day for minimum of one hour
- Can include: Book proposal; Book revision/new content; Blog post
- Permitted: 5 ‘vacation’ days
- Will include writer’s retreat (see earlier post)
- Aim for 12 hours per week
- Check in with Jen every day via text message: “Done” = completed at least one hour; “Vacation” = took the day off
- Jen replies “Check” for each message
I am happy to report that I took only 3 vacation days, two of which were while I was actually on vacation in Napa Valley, and the last one was on the day I hosted a dinner party for 25 people.
I am also happy to report that I aimed for an hour a day, but averaged 2.5!
I am further happy to report that writing is now something I now do every day, because I am not only accountable to Jen, but more importantly to myself. As a result, I have completed a total overhaul and re-draft of part one of my novel. I started with a travel (auto)biography and now I have a work of fiction. In home renovation terms, I tore done all the internal walls until I was left with just the foundation and some structural support and completely rebuilt, refurbished and redecorated it.
I am additionally happy to report that I am close to having a dynamic, well-crafted book proposal completed. This will then go out to agents and publishers.
I am lastly happy to report that Jen and her hubby Nate welcomed their baby daughter, Ellie, nearly a week ago. And brilliant as she is, Jen was still my accountability bud while in labor and just after Ellie’s birth – a her own insistence.
Many, many thanks to Jen and to the other writers I have in my life for your unwavering support and encouragement. Thank you to my non-writer friends and family members who have liked my Facebook updates on the progress, and support my endeavor to finish this novel. And thank you to Ben and Lucy for allowing me to lock myself away for hours at a time.