Help! I need accountability for writing!

By: Adam G Fleming in writing, 11 months ago

One of the biggest challenges for writers is that few of us make our full time living doing it. The result is that our patterns of behavior skew toward the urgent, the immediate cash flow activity, as we work to survive.

Is writing your “important” work? The thing that you hope will help you make your positive impact in the long run? Is it something you hope will one day generate residual income? Then read on.

I have yet to have a book become a best-seller, go viral on the Internet, but I believe in the power of the back catalog. Whenever one of my books attains the next level of success, it will pull the others with it. The problem here is that you cannot leverage the power of the back catalog, if you don’t write your first book, and then follow it up with several more.

You also will never be able to leverage it if what you write is dull, poorly edited, or otherwise not worth anyone’s while. This means that even as you build a back catalog, you’ve got to go for quality. I’ve done that to the best of my ability, so I know that when one book catches on, my readers will be pleasantly surprised to read the rest of my work, as they catch up with me.

All that to say, if you hope that one day writing will provide some significant income (even if, for example, you hope to be paid for blogs on Exoteric) then you have to find ways to stay productive. And that takes accountability until you develop that habit. It’s like many other habits… I started exercising because I did not want to hear my doctor say next year, “Mr. Fleming, you sir are out of shape and I’m concerned about your heart.” I haven’t heard it yet, but by the time you hear it, it could be too late. Writing is a similar habit. If you want to write ten books in your life, consider that one day you may find it’s too late for that as well.

We all know what it boils down to. You have to get to work. But accountability… and making it fun … that’s what I’m here for.

Resources for accountability: of course you can hire a coach to get you kicked off. Feel free to check out my gig here.

Another option is to join a network where you can be one of a group on a monthly call with me and fellow Exo coach (and graduate of Oxford U. with a master’s in creative writing) Justin Fike.

Finally, if you’re just curious to read some more of my work, check out my Amazon page. There are books on leadership and coaching, as well as some fun beach reads where you get a big dose of my sense of humor.


User Comments

7 Replies

  1. Mark Thomas

    Adam the statement “you cannot leverage the power of the back catalog, if you don’t write your first book” is an obvious, Duh! But it is also profound in that those that want to write need to ask themselves “why am I putting it off”? Writers, take Adam and Justin up on their offers!

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  2. Adam G Fleming

    Thanks Mark. Yes, I have lots to do today, but I’m taking four hours at the coffee shop to work on one of my upcoming books. The time must be sacred, or it gets chewed up!

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  3. Will Wiebe BA MS CPC

    Adam… a great article on accountability to writing …. especially that “First” book. The accountability piece is what emerges in me… as many individuals have prompted me over the years… to write that first book…. for me, its not only saying ‘Yes”, it’s that accountability within myself that will help me stay motivated to structure the time and priorities to move forward…. just maybe I will seek out and hire an Exoteric “Accountability Coach” that will keep my feet to the book writing fire…. Thank you for sharing your article.

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    • Adam G Fleming

      Thanks Will. Accountability is a tricky thing. I think that readers ought to be cautious when using the turn of phrase you used “accountability within myself” and I would like to elaborate (not so much for Will, because I’m guessing you have an ability to do that, and a specific understanding of what you mean by the phrase, and that you already know everything I’m about to say,) but for the general readers of this blog, I have a few observations, cautions to add. 1) Nobody can truly coach themselves, because coaching involves outside perspective, so the only logical conclusion is that, by definition, you cannot do it for yourself. And accountability, the type that comes from OUTside yourself, is a huge part of the value of coaching — I mean the value that’s actually attached to a great reason to spend your hard-earned dollars, not some intrinsic value thing. Accountability from the coach can provide tangible, financial return on investment. 2) However. The idea of accountability within yourself could work just fine if you have a high level of “change fitness”. (See my other articles on this intriguing topic!) For example, since the IRVEY assessment tool which measures Change Fitness shows that I have very high change fitness, it stands to reason that when I decided to purchase a gym membership and start hitting the treadmill, I was able to do this consistently for the last 2-3 weeks by tapping into my own motivation, or holding myself to exercising at least three times a week, without the support of a coach. I didn’t even really discuss the fact that I was thinking about getting in better physical condition with a coach… I just did it! In that sense, I have so far been able, without any outside accountability, to do it consistently. 3) if people do not have high levels of “change fitness” it is very difficult to have accountability to yourself to create new habits. That IRVEY can really help give you an idea of whether or not you have higher or lower than average Change Fitness levels. If this is the case, sometimes what people need even more than a great, highly skilled coach, to hold them accountable, is a change fitness program first! 4) And now we circle back to writing. Writing a book requires forming a certain type of work habit. You may be a very hard worker, but it is a different type of habit than we are used to, because it may require staring at a blank page for two hours, just disciplining yourself to be there, and finishing your time block for writing with nothing or very little to show for it (something that never happens when I get on a treadmill! There, I always have mileage to show, calories burnt, etc.) and that lack of immediate results can be discouraging. This work time is a bit like a meditation time, where you clear your mind, (which is hard enough to learn, right?) but on the other hand, it’s also a time when you’re hoping to be productive, and so the time spent in that space can be paradoxical! Because those times when you discipline yourself to have writing time can at times be so discouraging, to the point of feeling that you wasted all your time in this creative pursuit, cleared your mind while hoping to get something done, and then didn’t, it really helps to have outside accountability to keep going until the levee breaks. 5) In fact, I have published 6 books now and I still find it difficult enough that it still helps me to have outside accountability for it. Even for me, it’s harder in some ways than my relatively new physical exercise routine. In conclusion, thank you Will Wiebe for noting that “first” book is so critical. That isn’t so different from a first Marathon. Some people finish that first Marathon and say to themselves, “I’m going to keep doing this over and over” and others say “Phew, I’m glad that’s over and I’ll never do it again.” It’s hard to know how you’ll react, until you finish the first one.

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  4. Susie Young-Tatum

    Thank you, Adam for sharing your thoughts. Accountability is such an important piece.

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  5. Ellen Saravis

    Adam, I am a writer with atrophied muscles. This blog post is WRITE (yup, had to!) on time, as I just started working out again! I do not have my first book written, and the blogging discipline I have just set the intention for… is helping develop myofibrils to create my first book! Thanks for sharing your article!

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  6. Adam G Fleming

    Go to it, Ellen!

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