the writing life: on being accountable

Recently, I asked one of my writing buddies how she is able to find so much time to write. That’s something I’ve struggled with lately. I’ve felt guilty about it because this is the time of my life when I have no responsibilities other than myself. If I can’t find an hour or so to write now, when I’m twenty-seven, living alone, without even a goldfish to take care of, then how will I be able to write when I’m, say, forty years old, potentially with a family and real responsibilities?

My writing friend, Sonora, has created an impressive amount of content (2 books!) in the past few years, and I wondered how she was and is able to do it. One thing that she said helps her is her writing blog, where she discusses all things writing and gives periodic updates on her creative projects. She said that writing on the blog helps her feel accountable to her projects because there are people out there reading about her writing life. While I know the audience of this blog is not (yet) very large, I think even the perception of being accountable to a small readership can help.

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I’ve been working on a longer project for a while now (maybe for almost a year and a half), and I’m still not exactly sure what I’m calling this project. I often refer to it as a novel, sometimes a novella, or sometimes just “my writing project” as I’m not sure what form it will ultimately take.

A lot of writing, especially in the early part of one’s career, is about trial, error, and experimentation. It can feel intimidating to call something a novel when I don’t fully know if that’s what this undefined project is going to turn into. At the same time, why not just say it? There are probably close to as many bad novels out there that get published as there are good ones. And I’m by no means saying that writing a bad or mediocre novel is an easy feat; I’m certain it is not. Writing something just so-so is probably an essential step to in many peoples’ careers.

I’m making a conscious effort to not compare myself to other writers. When I look at writers whom I admire and then learn that they published their first books at age twenty-four, twenty-five, or twenty-seven, I feel like I’m falling short when really age is irrelevant. The more productive thing to do is to set goals for myself that are independent of the successes of others. Spending energy measuring myself against other peoples’ early successes won’t improve my own writing or move my projects forward. Only sitting down and writing will do that.

I’m also super excited to be taking The Extreme Novelist course at the Writer’s Center this September and October. This class is not a workshop, which I actually like. Although workshops can be valuable, I find that when taking them I often spend just as much time and energy reading and critiquing other peoples’ stories as I do working on and refining my own.

I’m not completely sure what this course has in store, but the description mentioned debunking the notion of needing to “feel inspired” to write, which is very interesting to me. What exactly is inspiration? I know it’s some kind of creative spark that moves the writing process (or any creative process) forward, but we can’t possibly feel inspired all the time. Creative writing is a job for anyone who wants to write novels. Like any other job, it requires sitting down and doing the work regardless of how you feel that day.

How do you hold yourself accountable to your writing goals?

xxx

la fille americaine

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1 thought on “the writing life: on being accountable”

  1. I like to write as well, and yes very difficult to find the time. Helps me whe I go to the library or a quiet place with fewer distractions. E joy our blog!!

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