Working as freelance writers, we don't have an employer or supervisor looking over our shoulder to hold us accountable for how we spend our time. Instead that responsibility falls on us.
I've always been big on planning and organization to help me get more worked into my schedule. I keep daily and weekly to-do lists. I have four white boards and two bulletin boards in my office to keep track of specific types of projects. And I have a terribly guilty conscience when I don't finish the things I set out to do in any given day. But that's not always enough.
One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable as a freelance writer is to share your plans with others. Knowing that someone else will see you fail can light a fire under you to succeed.
Step Into About Writing Squared
That's why it was such a great idea when Anne Wayman suggested using the About Writing Squared community (the "five buck forum" run by Anne and Lori Widmer) to hold ourselves accountable. This is a paid writing forum where you can network with, and get support from, your fellow freelance writers of all levels.
I finished more work last week -- the first I shared an accountability list -- than I had in months of using my standard lists. If you're curious to see what I and our fellow freelancers are up to each week, you should join for a month and check it out. Some examples of freelance writers you might know who are using these accountability lists include:
- Anne Wayman
- Lori Widmer
- Sharon Hurley Hall
- Cathy Miller
- Samar Owais
- Luana Spinetti
There's something motivational about seeing what everyone else is working on. And there's something comforting when you see that others don't always get everything done as planned either. We share successes and failures alike, and I consider it a great weekly reality check.
How it Works
You can really choose to share in whatever way suits you. But here's what I do:
- I set up a single thread called "Jenn's Accountability" in the "High Value Actions-Accountability-Bookending" forum.
- I posted a heading for the first post with a "week of..." notice.
- I listed all of my planned tasks for that week.
- When I complete something, I color it green. If I need to bump something to the following week, I color it red. You can edit these as you go.
- When one week ends, I post a fresh list in a new post in that same thread with a new "week of..." heading.
- As we go along we post in each other's threads occasionally with words of encouragement.
Simple, right? Yet it's very effective.
You could certainly do this anywhere. You could use a more public community (this one has a certain level of privacy because of its paid nature). You could even post your lists to your blog. Personally I think a tight-knit community like About Writing Squared is a great way to go. And I hope you'll check it out.