An Accountability Partner, Your Secret Weapon for Improving Your Writing Productivity

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I’ve written before about how I need deadlines to keep me motivated.  I’m very goal oriented, but if there’s no one to hold me accountable, it’s easy to put things off.

Back in June I emailed a fellow romance writer about becoming accountability partners. Jen and I are in similar places in our lives. We are both married with older children. We’re writers, but we’re also entrepreneurs wearing too many hats. We write, but we drive hither an yon, and juggle multiple commitments. We have works in progress and someday (preferably sooner rather than later) we want to be published.

Our process is simple. Once a week (usually Sunday) we exchange emails summarizing what we accomplished last week and outlining what we plan to accomplish in our fiction projects this week.

Examples of tasks include

  • Write 3,000 words
  • Edit 3 chapters
  • Research a medical malady for a characterization
  • Finalize plot points
  • Research contests
  • Identify potential agents or publications

Sometimes our paths will cross in person during the week, so we’ll check in then, if not, we’ll email on Wednesday or Thursday giving an update on what we’ve accomplished and the cycle starts all over again on Sunday.

One benefit has been that we’ve both learned that while word count is important, sometimes productivity comes in the form of research or other writing related activity. Overall, I’ve made more consistent headway on my work in progress in the last three months than I’ve made in the past year of working on this same project.

We’re not taskmasters instead we’re supporting each other. Some weeks given our personal and business commitments our creative writing has to take a back seat. Not ideal, but the way things have to be. For me, just knowing I have report back to Jen on my progress, inspires me to make time for my creative writing.

My Advice for Selecting an Accountability Partner

  • Know what you want going in and find someone looking for similar things.
  • I think it’s helpful if you find someone who is in a similar place to you. Neither Jen nor I are published yet, but we both want to be. We both write romance, but we write different sub-genres.
  • Set up a communications method that works. Emails work for us, but you might need calls or even face to face over coffee.

Where Can I Find an Accountability Partner?

Jen and I met at a local chapter meeting of the New Hampshire chapter of Romance Writers of America. You can check out local writers groups, your local library, college or university. No one nearby? Look online. If you are active in an online writer’s community, post a request, I bet you’ll find someone to work with.  I think it’s helpful to work with someone who is a writer but, I suspect you could also be successful with someone who is creative and goal oriented.

Have you worked with an accountability partner?  How has it worked for you?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.