Listen up, writertron.
Today we’re talking about accountability and we have some tough love for you. And we mean tough. So, buckle up, brace yourself, strap in, get under your Don’t Panic towel, and let’s get to it.
People are always asking us how they can be held accountable for getting their writing done. I get it, everyone loves a deadline. I was a journalist for 40,000 years. If I don’t have a deadline IMMINENT THIS SECOND I’m like laaa laa la whut?
But that’s not about accountability. That’s about timing and logistics. Accountability is a whole other thing and I’m going to lay it on the line for you here, Cowboy. No one cares if you write your story or not because a story only becomes important to the world once it’s been told.
Sure, the process of writing your story is, like, the single most important thing out there, but that’s only important to you. There is no agent sitting at their desk tapping their fingers thinking ‘when is Josephina Blogina going to send me their goshdarn story’ because there are already A LOT of stories out there clamouring to be heard.
Which leads us to this: the real consequence of not writing is simply that your writing doesn’t get written.
You remain a dreamer, rather than a doer.
The thing with accountability is that ultimately you are only ever accountable to yourself. There’s no external demand that can force it. The people who finish are the ones who find a story that is so important to them that they wake up every morning, burning with the excitement of telling it. Sure, they procrastinate and there’s tension within their work, but the end goal is very clear and they plough towards it with fearsome determination.
You hold yourself accountable by having a clear end goal in mind – if you don’t write, you don’t get to your goal. That’s all there is to it.
That end goal doesn’t have to be a high falutin’ mission about winning the Booker Prize or hitting the bestseller list. A goal is “I want to enjoy what I write”, or a goal is “I want to become so immersed in my story I hit flow state”, or a goal is “I want to write dinosaur erotica and get banned from submitting to lit mags”
Tl;dr wanna write a novel? You have to sit down and write a novel. Wanna write some flash? Sit down and write some flash.
You might have to rearrange some of your life to do it, but so what? You might have to have a word with your inner critic, but so what?
Look. You have to realise that time is short, life is precious, art is urgent, and if not now and if not tomorrow and if not next month or next year, then why are you even dreaming? Dreaming so hard that it hurts in your gut and it burns at your throat and you want to form the words with your fingers and the palms of your hands itch. So just stop dreaming and go and do it now. Right now. Once upon a time. On a dark and stormy night. One day a hero took the first step. Just begin.
And remember this: if you don’t do it, no one else is going to care. You will though.
Sarah and Team WHQ