An Accountability Partner

In the course of your writing lives, I’m sure you have had a critique partner or participated in a critique group. But have you ever had an accountability partner?

Before this past August, I hadn’t. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the concept before. (Okay, so the term, “accountability partner,” I made up. If there is a more official or creative name floating around, do let me know!)

Three months ago, fellow mermaid Kerri and I fell into an accountability relationship, and it has changed the course of my writing life. Here’s how it works:

— At the beginning of each week, Kerri and I each set a goal for the week. The goals do not have to be the same, but it’s always fun when they are. They range from word count goals (such as 1.5K words a day or once, when we were feeling really motivated, 10K words for the week) to revision goals (such as 2 chapters a day or 50 pages for the week) to task-specific goals (such as writing a synopsis or a short story).

— After setting our goals, Kerri and I email each other every day to report our progress (and celebrate and commiserate and give each other pep talks). This step is vitally important. Not only does it keep you on task, but it also motivates your partner. And really, who in your non-writing life will cheer when you say you’ve written 1709 words that day? It’s these small bits of encouragement that keep me going.

— Finally, at the end of the week, after we have met our goals (which we do about half of the time), we reward ourselves lavishly. The rewards have ranged from a pedicure to a margarita to a cupcake to a mojito to popcorn and movies to dinner out to running shoes to tall black boots, depending on the size of the accomplishment. (The last two were Kerri’s and my rewards, respectively, for finishing our novels.)

In the last three months, our productivity has shot through the roof. (Well, maybe I should speak for myself. Perhaps Kerri is always this productive, super-mermaid that she is.) We have both finished our WIPs, revised (or are in the process of revising), and written query letters and synopses. To top it off, Kerri also wrote her charming garden story during this time!

Now that I’ve discovered an accountability partner (thank you, Kerri-mermaid!), I can’t imagine writing another novel without one. What about you? Have you ever had an accountability partner and how did the relationship work? Please share. I’d love to hear about your experiences!