Identify Your Allies
April 25, 2023
Note From Rochelle
Accountability. It’s the best way I know to keep writing forward, especially when you are working on a project that does not have a contract. I have room for two or three more writers in the Writing Accountability Group. We begin April 27 and meet every other week. This small, intimate gathering will help you examine your own writing practices and stay accountable to getting stuff done. Learn more here: https://writenowcoach.com/writing-accountability-group/
Today’s tip is an excerpt from my book, Level Up. Over the years, the support and encouragement of friends and critique partners has helped me stay focused and working. This tip talks about how you can identify your allies. https://bookshop.org/a/655/9781950515035
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Identify Your Allies
By Rochelle Melander
This is what we can all do to nourish and strengthen one another: listen to one another very hard, ask hard questions, too, send one another away to work again, and laugh in all the right places.
– Nancy Mairs
As a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, Oprah Winfrey promotes one of the cornerstone secrets for successful weight loss: connecting. She said, “The journey is even better when you take it together.”
We choose wisely when we surround ourselves with people who make good choices. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it this way: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Choosing healthy companions affects our writing life. Psychology professor Robert Boice examined the habits of productive and unproductive faculty writers. He found that writers who belonged to peer writing groups received the following benefits:
- Maintained momentum to complete a project
- Produced more work
- Developed more creative ideas
- Improved the quality of their writing
- Identified sources for publication
In game language, the people you connect with are your allies. This quest provides you with multiple options for connecting with potential allies. Try out a few of them and measure which has the most positive impact on your writing life.
Review and Collect
Look at the following models for connecting. Under each category note your current allies and star the types of connecting that might work best for you right now.
Friends and Family
The people you connect with regularly can be some of your best allies. Friends and family members can help you celebrate your successes, cheer you up when you’re struggling, and support you through it all. People who are also working on creative projects can be especially helpful allies.
A coach will help you vision, set goals, create a plan, overcome blocks, and stay accountable. You might hire a coach for help with a single challenge or to be an accountability partner for the whole process.
An accountability partner can help you maintain momentum in achieving your goals. In this sort of relationship, it’s helpful if both people are working toward achieving a goal and need accountability.
For years, I’ve met with small networking and support groups for accountability. When I wanted to quit, these connections have helped me to leap forward.
Professional writers study great writing—and know what works and what doesn’t work. When you invite other writers to read and critique your writing, you expand your understanding of good writing. And, you learn about your blind spots. From complex comments on structure and voice to technical lessons on commas and run-on sentences, a good critique can strengthen your writing. Plus, having a critique group often provides you with the deadline you need to finish a draft of your work.
When you cannot make progress even with the help of a coach or coaching group, you might consider taking a class. With the help of an instructor and colleagues, you’ll receive assignments, due dates, feedback, and accountability. In addition, paying a fee can sometimes help us work harder.
Find and Connect
After reviewing and reflecting on the above possibilities for connecting, you will have an idea of what kind of connection would work best for you at this time. If you’re developing a writing habit or starting a writing project, it might be most helpful to get a coach or accountability partner to cheer you on and help you when you hit roadblocks. Or maybe you’re feeling ready to submit your work but would like some feedback on your work—then it might be time to connect with an editor or critique group.
Once you know what kind of connection you want, brainstorm people who might make good allies. If you get stuck, ask current allies who they would recommend. Search online for additional opportunities—coaches, critique groups, and classes. Then connect!
Game Play Tips
- When you try a connecting tool, track your progress. Choose a goal you want to accomplish—perhaps increasing your weekly word count, discovering tools to overcome writer’s block, or finishing a project. Note your progress on the goal as well as how the group or partnership affects you. Does it increase or decrease your energy? Do you feel more or less confident? This reflection will help you find connections that work!
- Give each connecting tool time to work. One coaching session or one critique group session can be helpful, but several can be transformational. It takes time to develop trust, and transformational relationships are built on a foundation of trust.
- You may need to try a few coaches, accountability partners, or groups before you find one that suits you.
For the Win
Creating can be a challenging game. Writers work alone for months or years to produce a product they’re satisfied with. But that’s just the opening match. Whether we sell our product to a publisher, packager, or directly to a reader, the process can be a lengthy and frustrating experience, filled with rejection and stumbling blocks. The successful creatives find and connect with allies. We cheer each other on, not only when we cross finish lines but also when we’re starting a new project, facing challenges, or feeling discouraged. When we have allies, we’re winners no matter what happens.