Establishing Accountability for Writing Goals

At the end of last week’s Faculty Writing Residency, several participants noted that they have trouble making time for writing. The Residency gave them “permission” to block time to write, and they felt empowered to tell people they couldn’t schedule other meetings for the Residency week because they’d already committed to the four-day writing retreat. Many worried about establishing accountability for their writing goals outside the Residency structure.

If, like our participants, you find it hard to block time for writing, here are a few tips:

  • Schedule a meeting just to write. Put it on your calendar every week and treat it as a sacred meeting time that rarely gets bumped. For more success, schedule the meeting to write with someone, even if you each write in your own office or preferred writing space. I tell Faculty Writing Residency alumni that they can make a standing appointment to “meet” with me to write; just make sure to tell me you’ve scheduled the appointments so that if someone asks I can confirm the standing meeting. 😉
  • Make your writing goals public. Email them to friends/colleagues. Post them on facebook. Tweet about them. Or even participate in a “streaker” challenge. But increase your accountability by telling others about your writing goals.
  • Share drafts as an accountability measure. Now that you’ve shared your writing goals, ask a friend if you can send drafts at regular intervals to keep you on track for meeting those goals. If your friend is in the same discipline or part of your writing group, they might be kind and offer feedback. The real point, though, is to be accountable to someone. If you said you’d write a literature review and send it by Friday, you’ll feel more pressure to meet your goal than if you haven’t told anyone else you’ll share the draft. (Of course, keep your writing goals manageable so that you can successfully meet them.)
  • Start a writing group. Commit to meeting regularly, to exchanging drafts in advance of or at each meeting, and to sharing your goals for your next meeting. It might take a few tries to find the perfect group, but don’t give up. There are other people (on your campus, in your discipline, etc.) who would welcome the shared accountability and regular feedback that come with writing communities.

Happy writing!