In the last days of 2018, at a small gathering of writer friends, I mentioned I was thinking about starting an accountability project for 2019. Would they be interested in joining me?
All four of us are working writers, but it’s not all we do: Two have full-time jobs unrelated to writing; one is an artist in residence for the state going here and there, teaching in a variety of capacities; one has numerous health issues, but is also active in the community working diligently for good causes. How to make sure that writing still gets done, that we move forward on our projects, that we don’t get overly discouraged alone at our desks after a long day of doing all the other parts of our lives? I knew I needed a boost, and I thought maybe they did too.
Here’s the structure I set up for our little group:
1. At the beginning of each month, I send out an email to the group saying what do you want to accomplish this month? Each person responds when convenient with a goal or two or three, putting it out there safely among friends who are invested in our writing.
2. On Sunday of each week, I send a quick email check-in asking how did it go this week? Each person checks in to encourage others and share their own progress.
3. During the month, we each send along links to articles, blogs, pictures, whatever comes our way that seems relevant to our journeys. It’s a simple way to say, I’m here, I thought of you, I thought you might enjoy this.
4. We meet in person when possible, trying for once a month, to catch up, share publications, responses from editors, contest successes, those pesky problems and “no thank yous,” and the ultimate glory of tea, coffee, critique, and hugs that only being together in person can provide.
At this point, on the last day of January, we are a month in. I’ve met some of my goals, but not all. One of our group finished a draft of a novel a week early! Another has a bad case of the why bothers? The other member has been braving ice and snow to develop workshops for the spring season, and dabbling with the beginnings of new poems. We have all reached out to one another to share encouragement and empathy. Mary Oliver‘s death prompted many emails of articles, poems, remembrances, and inspiration. All of us dabbled with the Writers Happiness Movement (Thank you Lori Snyder!).
On Friday, February 1, I will send out that new email, saying what do you want to accomplish this month?
It’s like a reset button. After today, those January goals are gone. Sure we can carry things over, but we don’t have to. No matter what we did or didn’t accomplish in January, February is a clean slate, a fresh start. Like when a new coating of snow settles overnight, we get to make our own tracks. Yesterday’s muddy footprints are gone.
So as the polar vortex goes back where it came from, and the groundhogs debate spring, take a moment to consider:
- What do I want to accomplish this next month?
- Who do I want to help me be accountable?
- How can I support others on their creative journey this year?
- When and where can I meet with creative friends to share the ups and downs of this wonderful/horrible thing I am called to do?
I’d love to hear what you come up with or what you already do.
Stay warm. Stay safe. Keep going.