Traveling from the airport to the hotel on my way to the eWomen Network International Conference, I shared a shuttle van with a fellow attendee. We quickly figured out that we were going to the same place and for the same reason, AND she was there to attend the AuthorCamp day-long workshop where I was presenting. In the short, 20-minute ride down the highway to the hotel, we chatted about a number of things, from writing (of course) to connection.
One other topic was the importance of creating a supportive structure around you. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, run a solo business, write a book, or run a half-marathon, you’ll be more successful if you’re following a structured program (even if it’s of your own making), have some way to be held accountable, and are supported.
I know that for years when I tried to lose weight, I thought I needed to do it by myself. I knew what to do, right? Eat better, exercise more. Simple, yes? Well, not so simple, and I struggled for years. Not until I joined Jenny Craig and had a system, accountability, and support, did I successfully lose weight. I had a menu to follow that told me exactly what to eat and when. I had weekly check-in appointments with my counselor. I had online support forums, literature, and motivational recordings to help support me.
And I’m only five pounds away from my goal weight, having lost thirty-five.
Same thing with writing. You just… write. Right? Well, that’s where a writing group or writing seminar or class comes in handy. Even though I teach writing and creativity, I need support, so I’m in a writers’ workshop to work on my fiction projects. And when that’s over, I’m going to look for a local writers’ group.
Because the reality is that these stories aren’t going to write themselves. And with a business to run, kids to connect with, a house to sell, and a new personal journey ahead of me, frankly, I don’t make the time daily to write on my personal projects. Not if it’s left up to me, that is.
It’s hard for me to admit this. I’m supposed to be the writing and creativity professional. Heck, as a writing coach, I hold people accountable and help them create the structure to write. Why can’t I do that for myself?
Well, because one person cannot be a complete support system unto one’s self. In addition, one can’t be completely accountable to one’s self. I say “completely” because we’re always accountable to ourselves to some extent. What I’m talking about here is a system of accountability outside of ourselves.
The three things to help you be successful as a writer are:
- Structure – When do you write? Where? For how long? What are your daily goals (# of words, # of pages, # of minutes/hours you write each day)? What are your monthly goals (# of chapters done, research, pieces of book proposal)? If you have a framework, it’s much easier to settle into. You don’t have to figure out what to do, when to do it, or how much. That’s already been established. Now, you can write within that framework.
- Support – Do you have a writing coach or a writing group? You need feedback on your writing, from style and clarity to the message you’re trying to convey. You also need to know you’re not alone. That the challenges you’re experiencing aren’t just isolated, rare instances that only happen to you. Other people struggle with those very same things. There’s nothing wrong with you. Finally, you need a group who understands your world. Your mother, as supportive as she might be, might not completely get what a big deal it is that you wrapped up Chapter 7 you’d been fighting with for so long.
- Accountability – We may tell ourselves that we’ll write every day, but if it’s left up to us, life gets in the way. Sick kids, sick car, sick dog, sick clients… When it comes down to it, life takes precedence. Unless we have a system of accountability that’s going to help hold our feet to the fire. When we know someone else is going to ask if we reached our goals, we’re going to push a little harder to make it happen.
You don’t have to do it alone. My weight loss isn’t any less significant because I did it with a program. The end result is what’s important. Same thing with writing a book. You’re looking to finish a book. Why not make it easier, better, and faster by finding a way to add structure, support, and accountability to your writing life?
About Dawn Goldberg
Dawn Goldberg brings life to words and writing – and helps others through their writing and publishing journey. Sign up for Fuel For Your Writing Journey at Write Well U (www.WriteWellU.com) and get the Nifty Guide for Writers checklist free.