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Writer's Accountability

NSMike

Tsurani Great One
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
162
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
I don't know about any other of you aspiring writers out there, but I personally have a problem. I tend to get great ideas for stories, end up starting them, but usually I'm not consistent in working on them. The last story I finished was for the Random Challenge #2 here, and that's because I was motivated to finish the story before the thread died down.

So, if you have this problem too, and want to get some work done, perhaps we could brainstorm some ideas on how to hold each other accountable to getting some words down on a page consistently.

The obvious problem here is proving that you got your work done without posting it. This is where the brainstorming comes in. Other more mundane details like pages/words per day/week can be worked out later.

Is there a demand for this kind of thing? Or am I just lazy?

Let me know!
 

Princess Ivy

Damsel in this dress
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Aug 23, 2004
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Wibble
you aren't lazy babe, its one of my biggest problems, the steam just runs out, or something more interesting pops up. I'd be happy to be a sounding board, although i have now decided what i am going to do and am pushing ahead with it. I also have my uni work (which is piling up) so i have very little time to work on anything else. but some motivation to put words down on a page every day, some structure to my hectic schedule would be welcome:D
 

L'Aile

Didactic Dreamer
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
18
:D I'd like to get involved with some type of accountability thing--having a deadline is a real motivation. I did finish my first novel about a month ago, but it would be great to have people pushing me to finish more...that being said, I really think if you like to write, and are serious about it, you tend to write every day, regardless. Finishing a project, though... thats a different animal. It's always good to have people rooting for you! So...sign me up. I'll help and be involved in whatever way I can.
Accountability--if you don't want to post what you wrote...we'll just have to rely on the honor system...I think a per week accounting of things completed ( with people setting individual goals) would work.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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Maybe we should run regular online workshops on various things? That way, even if not directly related to existing projects, it may kick some of the creative channels open.
 

aurelio

author/artist
Joined
Aug 22, 2004
Messages
233
This may sound contrarian, but I set a schedule and deadlines for myself when I'm writing. I approach it like a regular job and take the deadlines seriously. I mark up the calendar, etc. It's artificial, but I find it works for me. I usually set check points too, so I can gauge if I'm falling behind on my bigger deadlines.

Part of this evolved from living off my own dime while I was writing, so I looked at it as me hiring myself, and time is money.

I found it is better than having to rely on outside things or people forcing me to perform, because they will not always be there.

I also find making a habit of when I sit down to write helps a lot too. Even if I don't get much writing done, it keeps me trying.

Encouraging each other is a big plus too, but after all, it really comes down to self-discipline in the end anyway, right?
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
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I know a lot of writers who have tried this sort of thing -- making a pact with one or two others to turn out a certain number of words or pages on a daily or weekly basis. It seems to work very well for them.

I've never tried it myself and keep telling myself that it wouldn't work well for someone like me. Although it suddenly occurs to me that may just be an excuse for not making the experiment ...
 

NSMike

Tsurani Great One
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Feb 13, 2005
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Well, Aurelio, to work that way requires a LOT of self-discipline, which I don't have. If I set a deadline for myself, then when I come to it, I will always end up saying, "Well, I set the deadline, so I can move it back." It's a lot harder to push back a deadline when you have to tell someone else you failed to reach your deadline.

A consistent, strong system of accountability will assure that I will have to be there for another writer, just as another writer has to be there for me to hold me accountable to writing what I should. That way, you're breaching an agreement twice if you fail to be there, so there's more incentive to stick with it.

I don't think self-discipline is what it comes down to in the end. I think it comes down to what works for every person, because like I said, I don't have that kind of self-discipline, and I doubt I ever will with my habits. If this works out, and I actually succeed to some degree as a writer, I'll carry this on. And who knows, maybe this will help build some self-discipline I never knew I had. I think this is at least a worthwhile experiment.
 

Princess Ivy

Damsel in this dress
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Aug 23, 2004
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yeah, i'm with you there babe. I am accountable for myself while I write, but keep getting distracted with other things. My own deadlines have the same nasty tendancy to be moved back.

And Brian, a couple of workshops would be great.
 

Circus Cranium

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Joined
Nov 17, 2004
Messages
465
Here's a thought. Instead of relying on another author to prompt you into keeping a deadline as part of an experiment, why not just find a paying market, or an anthology that has a deadline? That way, you still have to meet a deadline, and your motivation is cash. That's what keeps me on schedule. What better motivation?
 

NSMike

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Feb 13, 2005
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Because I don't have any clout as a writer, nor have I published anything, mainly due to the fact that I never finish anything. That's not an option at the moment. No one would want me.

Maybe I should further define what I mean by accountability. It seems the general impression people are getting is that you pretty much say to the other writer, "Keep on truckin'!" and that's the end of it. That's not what I had in mind.

What I have in mind seems almost intuitive. This system sounds like the goal is to guilt the writer in to keeping up his end, and that's kind of how it begins, but that's not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to build good habits. The guilting part is the process.

Okay, so we set a deadline to complete a certain amount of work, say 5000 words in 7 days; a fairly easy goal to accomplish. Start out easy. That's about 8 pages single spaced 12 pt. Times New Roman in Microsoft Word, default margins. Now, this isn't official, it's just for the sake of my example. Say we start this on Monday. When the next Monday rolls around, we all "meet" on the board, and ask the question, "Did we get our 5000 words done?" If yes, then great, let's set another goal. If no, then why not, give some encouragement, tips, whatever, and move on to another goal, requiring that the previous goal be met in addition to the new one. Obviously, if you're not going to be honest, then there's no reason to be part of this. And, we should have ONLY ENCOURAGEMENT. No tearing down another person for not meeting the goal. That's not necessary.

If anyone can think of something to add, please do.
 

Space Monkey

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
Dec 1, 2004
Messages
142
NSMike said:
Because I don't have any clout as a writer... No one would want me.
...
If anyone can think of something to add, please do.
:eek:
*SLAP*
Snap out of it, have you read what's being published these days?
I've read your writers challenge post, and you can write as well as the people getting their work published. It takes persistence and confidence.

If you read half the stuff that appears in certain magazines, you'd stick a pen up your ass and let your colon turn out better stories than they do.
 
Last edited:

aurelio

author/artist
Joined
Aug 22, 2004
Messages
233
Hey, I'm all for whatever motivates you NSMike! Really, if having the support and urging of others helps get you in gear, go for it. I was speaking for myself and from my own experience with the hope that it might be helpful, but everyone is different and there are many roads and all that.

I like Circus Cranium's idea (a lot), and you know, you don't have to be an experienced writer to submit stories to mags or ezines - I checked and didn't see any "previously published" requirements to submit when I looked on Ralans. If they say no, at least it will have gotten you moving, and if they say yes, cha-ching! :D
 

Circus Cranium

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Nov 17, 2004
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465
I agree, you could get published if you research your markets right. You need to practice editing, but you're not a bad writer at all. It would be an experiment unto itself to start practicing the submissions process, maybe getting some feedback from the editors etc. Think of it like fishing, sometimes you catch one, sometimes you don't.
 

tonic

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Mar 21, 2004
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216
Location
Toronto, Ontario
Well I've done something similar it was kind of like a writing circle. We would each write a short story for a certain date and then we would pick one that everyone critiques on. It got the wrok done because we had to have it due for a certain time. Though i like your idea Brian about Workshops and such.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Don't let anyone talk you into submitting your work before you think it's ready NSMike. People mean to be encouraging and supportive, but you alone know if you are turning out stories that you would LIKE to see in print with your name on them.

Anyway, some people seem to do better with short term deadlines and daily quotas than they do with something long term. Of the writers I mentioned above -- the ones who sometimes use something like your idea to motivate them -- some of them already have contracts and deadlines, but they also have jobs, or children, or other distractions that tend to take priority while the deadline is still far off. Having an agreement and a writing buddy to hold them accountable helps them to turn out work steadily, instead of all in a big rush when the deadline begins to loom. It really is a method that has proved successful for a lot of people.

With me, on the other hand, sometimes having a deadline motivates me, and sometimes it just freaks me out.
 

Mark Robson

Dragon Writer
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Aug 31, 2004
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Daventry - England
Kelpie said:
Don't let anyone talk you into submitting your work before you think it's ready NSMike. People mean to be encouraging and supportive, but you alone know if you are turning out stories that you would LIKE to see in print with your name on them.

Anyway, some people seem to do better with short term deadlines and daily quotas than they do with something long term. Of the writers I mentioned above -- the ones who sometimes use something like your idea to motivate them -- some of them already have contracts and deadlines, but they also have jobs, or children, or other distractions that tend to take priority while the deadline is still far off. Having an agreement and a writing buddy to hold them accountable helps them to turn out work steadily, instead of all in a big rush when the deadline begins to loom. It really is a method that has proved successful for a lot of people.

With me, on the other hand, sometimes having a deadline motivates me, and sometimes it just freaks me out.
Good advice, all. Personally, I do find setting goals and deadlines useful, as I am more motivated into working hard to achieve them, but I don't simply use word targets. Achieving word targets is fine, but if the words you write are useless because you have rushed a piece to meet a target - why bother?

I personally set double targets - words and time spent on a story. This, to me, is a very positive way of thinking, because I have no excuses not to meet my targets. This is how it works:

I have a weekly word target which is normally modest - 4-5000 words. I have daily word targets (normally 1000/day). However, I also have time targets i.e. I will write, or try to write, for 3 hours a day to meet my 1000 word target. If I reach the end of 3 hours and I have a blank piece of paper in front of me - fine - I have achieved my goal. I have sat and thought about the story for 3 hours, which has mentally prepared me that much more to be able to write those elusive words next time. If I finish my 1000 in an hour, then fine - I stop writing. Why stop? Because if I'm on a roll and the writing is flowing, then I know that tomorrow's 1000 will be easy because I know where I'm going. I try to be disciplined enough not to splurg thousands of words in one go, as I tend to burn myself out. By pacing myself I write far more consistently.

This works for me, but I know that not everyone is the same. :)
 

NSMike

Tsurani Great One
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Feb 13, 2005
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Pennsylvania, USA
Mark, I love your suggestions. I think we should leave this open to a few more suggestions for a little while longer, and then maybe get the ball rolling on this idea for those who wish to participate.

Something I just thought up: Regardless of what is decided upon as our format here, I suggest keeping a day-to-day log of our accomplishments. Nothing too detailed, but something that we can post on here as a part of our accountability. It's the next best thing to posting our whole work that I can figure. Something along the lines of time spent and words/pages written each day.

Okay, keep brainstorming, and maybe we can start this next Monday!
 

Treikayan

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Mar 1, 2005
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153
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Glory be!
NSMike said:
I don't know about any other of you aspiring writers out there, but I personally have a problem. I tend to get great ideas for stories, end up starting them, but usually I'm not consistent in working on them. The last story I finished was for the Random Challenge #2 here, and that's because I was motivated to finish the story before the thread died down.
I have the same problem. I start a project but never finish it. It tends to be work related though. When I'm under pressure or stress, I "dwell" on that and it negates any any concentration or focus on creativity I have. On the other hand, when I'm at work, thats when I get all my ideas. Unfortunately, when I get home, I forget them all. Aahhh. :rolleyes:
 

Circus Cranium

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Nov 17, 2004
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465
Mark said (Achieving word targets is fine, but if the words you write are useless because you have rushed a piece to meet a target - why bother?)


I agree. I have author friends that force themselves to put out a certain word count every day, even if the work is suffering. I can't do this. Because sometimes if you're on the right track, you can bang out MORE words than is your norm. Other times, if the words aren't coming, it means you need to re-think your direction. Forcing it might send you down the wrong road, and lead to scrapping whole chapters later on when you realize you're unhappy with it.
 
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