Most writer’s don’t like deadlines. In general, they don’t like reporting in to anyone about whether or not they have met their quota of pages or words written per day or per week and they don’t appreciate having to complete a writing project by a certain date—especially since they have a hard time ever feeling like their projects are finished.
Sound like you? Well, let me tell you. Actually, accountability is your best friend when it comes to feeling overwhelmed.
Initially having an accountability partner—someone you check in with periodically about your progress—can feel stressful, as can having a deadline, but once you begin meeting your commitments, you will feel less overwhelmed. Why? Because you will be getting your work done.
So, the next step in decreasing your writer’s overwhelm, and the last part of this series, involves getting yourself an accountability partner. This can be a writing friend or a coach with whom you check in on a regular basis concerning your short and long term goals.
I have always found that being accountable to someone makes me get my work done. I’ve never really liked deadlines, but knowing I have one surely makes me complete my writing work. When I work for a magazine, my editor becomes my accountability partner. If you have a book contract, your editor at the publishing house serves as your accountability partner. If you are a blogger, your readers become your accountability partners; you assume they wait each day or week for you to post your next blog. That’s why blogging a book is such a great way to get your book written quickly. Not only do you have to be disciplined and write your book on a schedule (you have a daily deadline or one set up several times a week), but you have readers waiting for you to publish the next installment who become your accountability partners.
In the absence of these partners, you can hire a writing coach. I have successfully coached clients through the writing of their books simply by being there every week to discuss their progress, strategies for overcoming obstacles, new weekly goals, and generally cheer them on. It’s amazing how quickly people can write a book when they know they are paying someone to keep them on track.
Critique groups, writing buddies or even best friends and family members also can stand in as accountability partners. Simply ask them to hold you to your own deadlines and writing goals. Or, if you are fairly disciplined, simply give yourself deadlines, and then stick to them.
If you utilize the idea of accountability partners and deadlines, you’ll find yourself meeting your writing goals much more quickly and reliably.
Who will be your accountability partner? Think of five people and/or groups that could help you in this manner. When you find one or two to whom you will, indeed, be accountable, check them off the list.
Last, despite most people’s – not just mine – dislike of deadlines, you must set one for your big rocks. If you determine when you want to have this project completed, you are more likely to actually achieve the goal. It’s a proven fact that if we don’t just say, “I want to finish this project this year, “ but rather say, “I want to finish this project by March 30, 2012,” we are more likely to get it done by that date. Therefore, it behooves you to utilize this tool if you want to get your big rocks moved.
So, consider your first big rock that you listed at the beginning of this series. When would you like to complete it? Write down your deadline.
To meet this deadline, when must you start this project? When is your midpoint in the schedule? What must you have done by that point? List any important dates, such as your start date, midpoint date, and other Important dates to move smaller rocks I’ve chipped away from my big rocks.
Then plot all these dates on your calendar and share them with your accountability partner(s). Put the tasks (the rocks) associated with achieving them on your to-do list, and move them as appropriate. In no time, you will achieve your writing goals this year.
I hope you end up feeling less overwhelmed by using the process outlined in this series. Overwhelm is not a nice feeling, and it doesn’t help you get your work done. The process I’ve outlined for you beginning here, however, help you accomplish a lot and feel good in the process. Let me know how it goes. Leave me a comment.