I meet with my writing partner once a month for two hours. I always look forward to it. She wasn't in a class or writing group with me, but we met in our kids' school yard and realised we both had the same love - writing. We have different styles and work with different genres but the same respect for the craft and art of painting pictures with our words. So what does a writing accountability partner do?
1) The number one purpose is that we hold each other accountable for goals and deadlines. We are both busy mums, but we both want to publish. So every time we meet we get out our diaries and plan what we want to personally accomplish. And that next time we meet, the first thing we do is talk about why or why we didn't make our goals. These are self-imposed goals, and there is complete grace for one another if we don't accomplish them.
2) We are each other's biggest fans. We read and comment on each other's blogs. We talk about one another to others who might take an interest. Most of all, however, is that we believe in one another - we all need someone who believes in us, especially with something like writing which can be solitary, lonely and full of criticism.
3) We bounce ideas off one another and help each other think outside the box, or like there is no box. I have talked through numerous ways to end my novel with my friend Mel (my accountability partner). She and I brainstormed different scenarios that would create tension in her book.
4)We help each other with language issues. Being an American has been a challenge when I have been writing to a British audience. I have no idea when I throw in phrases that are uber American, especially in my British dialogue. I help her on the other side so that Americans can understand what she has written. For example, I just did an edit of her manuscript and circled words that were very, very British (which I had to look up). I also found one word (that she used a lot) that has a different, and almost offensive meaning in the US than it does here in England. (*See below for a list of Brit words I found in my edit of her MS)
5) We are honest when something isn't working or is clunky and awkward. We help each other out with constructive feedback with different chapters of our work. And we cheer each other on even with our ‘ouches’ (aka feedback) when we make suggestions. Most of our friends are 'in awe' that we actually write. Neither of us find generalised compliments all that helpful, and we need someone to let us know with honesty that something just plain sucks.
6) We edit one another's work and look for pet words, too many adverbs, awkward sentences, places that could be developed, sterile dialogue, and so forth. We don't want to bog each other down with a thorough copy edit as people get paid to do that, but the odd piece of writing here and there is helpful.
7) We drink a lot of tea and eat cake. She's a friend and our writer's hats go off for at least a third of our time together. Our kids are similar ages and, honestly, she's just a really refreshing person.
8) We pass on resources to one another. I let her know about helpful websites or tips I've learned about her writing genre. She lets me know about upcoming conferences or handouts she got from an Oxford online class. We both look for books that the other person might enjoy.
** So as a 'bonus'. I've included (with Mel's permission) another cultural learning curve which happened when I did an edit of her latest MS.
Here are several Brit words that she used (and I liked them so much I'm going to start using them):
1) Shonky - Dishonest or unreliable.
2) Cock-a-hoop -Being in a state of boastful elation or unrestrained joy.
3) Quashed - Reject as invalid or put an end to.
4) Scarper - To run away.
5) Blag - Obtain something by persuasion that usually involves embellishment or deceit.
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