holding my own feet to the fire

Accountability works best when there are at least two people involved. Granted, I’ve got Vye to hold me accountable, but she’s not really a people. She’s a muse, and they see things their own way. Her method of holding me accountable is to sulk quietly and then, when I’m not looking, slip out the back and refuse to return until she feels like it.

Don’t get me wrong. When she does that, message received. But it doesn’t do much to push me toward action when I’m slogging through my day-to-day not as on task as I should be.

So, accountability. Vye isn’t going to give it to me. And I try to do it, myself, but that’s tough. If I’m the one not churning out the word count I should be, I’m not a good candidate for kicking my own ass into gear. I end up just telling myself I suck. Again, this gets the message across (ie, “You should be doing something!”), but isn’t effective motivation.

One thing I learned from NaNoWriMo is that I am perfectly capable of writing a shit-ton of words a day. On my writing days, I didn’t have a single day of less than 4K. My word count since NaNoWriMo ended? Um, yeah. Not as impressive.

Writers can hold one another accountable, and sometimes that works, but sometimes (I suspect more often) it doesn’t. If someone who’s churning out words at break-neck speed tried to encourage me on a 12 word day, I’m afraid I would feel a considerably stronger urge to strangle them with their laptop cord than to run back to the blank page and type.

What is a writer to do, then? Practice, I think, and be okay with failure. Set goals and track them. It’s irritating, but telling. Experiment. What environment works best for you? What music? What time of day? What days of the week?

And then, rinse and repeat.

I’ve always liked that people who do yoga call it “practicing” yoga. Really, that’s what writers do, too. We practice. Sometimes all the stars align and our efforts are wildly successful. More often, we struggle through, hopefully meeting our goals more often than we don’t. The great challenge is just to keep writing. There are going to be times when you won’t want to and there will always be good reasons not to.

But words don’t write themselves. Writers do. Fallen, ego-driven, lazy, unorganized, undisciplined writers. Push through your faults, lay aside your ego, stop being lazy, find some way to organize your thoughts and, for God’s sake, embrace discipline no matter how prickly it feels. It’s the only way.

And if you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life who will hold you accountable in a way that doesn’t make you feel like shit, use that, too. Use anything you can to keep writing. That’s the hard part.


  1. Keep in mind that you just went through a month of binge writing. Recouping from that will leave you with low word count days. Don’t get discouraged. For the time being maintain a small daily word count, say 500 or so. If you make it, great! If not, there’s always tomorrow. The worst thing to do would be to stop writing. Even one day off makes the next day that much harder to get back to it.

    You’ll pull through. I’m confident in that.


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