Today I want to talk about accountability, mainly because I have to have accountability to get things done. I'm a serious procrastinator when it comes to difficult tasks or tasks I don't really enjoy, so it's important for me to hold myself accountable. The difficult thing with this, though, is finding the most effective way to do so.
For example, when I'm doing work for homework, it's easier to get things done because I know my grade depends on it. I also know that I will see results pretty soon after, so it helps me understand that if I choose not to do whatever it is, then I will hurt myself in the long run.
It's also easier when I have a project that is important to someone else. For example, when I was working on edits for my book that needed to get out to a beta reader by a certain time, I knew that I couldn't screw around. If I took too long, then she'd lose her window of opportunity to read it without having to pile it on top of other projects. Since I didn't want to burden her with excess work, I was able to use accountability to get it done on time.
What about a project that has only myself to worry about, though? I still struggle with this. I have a writing timeline that I need to follow if I want to get my stories and books out when I say they should be out. What happens if I don't stick to the timeline? Nothing. Not really, anyway. Nothing really happens because I don't get a bad grade because of it or fail to keep a promise to a friend. There is no visible waste of money, either. But what do I get if I stay on track? Nothing. Again, nothing really... at least not in the short run.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I get screwed on if I don't, but because they are not immediate, it's much easier to blow them off. For example, the short story I'm still working on, which was supposed to be finished almost a month ago, is just sitting here unfinished. It's not making any money, it's not helping me promote, it's not getting out there to the world. Why? Because I'm procrastinating or doing other things. Not working on it is only hurting myself.
So, how can we come up with ways to hold ourselves accountable when there are not any tangible or immediate consequences? Haha, well, I'm still working on this, but some things that help me are telling people what I'm working on and when they can expect to see it. By giving them a date, I've made it so they will expect something then. On my website, for example, I have release dates for some of my books. They are tentative, really, but having them up there and public helps me a little. If I tell someone that they will see my book in December and they look forward to it, then I'd be stupid to blow it off.
Another thing that works for me is to have writing buddies. Whether I'm word sprinting, at a write in, or #wordmongering on Twitter it's better to have other people around who are in the same boat. If I join in, then they ask "Did you do any writing?" I don't have to feel like an idiot by saying "Dur, nope. No writing." Instead, I force myself to work and get things done.
With all of that said, and of course it is much easier said than done, I'm still working on this whole accountability thing. If I want my dreams to come true, so to speak, I have to work for it. I've got to actually DO things. I can't expect it to happen while I sit around and do nothing, right? Hopefully I can find a good balance and keep myself from backing off when I should be pushing forward.
[READER RESPONSE] How do you create accountability? What things have you done that made you successfully work and finish things when you didn't feel like it. Any words of wisdom or awesome tips?