I ran a marathon when I turned 4o only because I told people I was gonna do it.
If I never said it out loud to real people who heard me, I would have bagged it when I was starving, tired, and my toenails were falling off.
But I did it. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty, but I completed the NYC Marathon once, and it’s still one of the things I’m most proud of.
Writing conferences, or blogging conferences (apparently a huge difference) are a kick-ass source of inspiration, but it’s difficult (for me) to attend alone, which I’ve done several times now, only because I posted on my FB page that I’d be there. It’s hard for me; like going to the prom alone. At somebody else’s school.
But I showed up anyway, because I said I would, and quite possibly, non-refundable tickets.
You gotta do what you gotta do when you say you’re gonna do it
Or at least try.
Once a month I attend Writers’ Rendezvous, an organized discussion with 15-20 local Connecticut writers at the Westport Barnes & Noble, who generously share ideas about craft and content. We also, one by one, state our goals for the month, and are held accountable to follow up at the next meeting. Every time.
We start each meeting being held accountable to our goals from last month. These range from taking a class, rewriting a chapter, writing a pitch, finding a copyeditor, reading a book, submitting work, business cards, writing 2,000 words, cleaning a desk, building a website, learning twitter, researching, creating a bio, or simply just coming back to next month’s meeting.
Did we get it done, or didn’t we? Or do we even remember what we said we’d do?
Then the floor is open for sharing and questions, there’s a wealth of talent in that circle, all willing to share what they know, who they know. Before adjourning, we go around the circle again, with our goals for the following month, until we rendezvous again. Out loud, one by one.
Crime novelists, financial writers, poets, children’s book authors, memoirists, health, comic book writers, romance, self-help, fantasy, mystery, screen writers, historical fiction, social commentary, spiritual, travel, cook book authors – genres from across the literary spectrum. Published authors and aspiring newbies set goals for the month, then follow-up on whether they met them. Gabi makes us. We make us.
No one’s keeping track or score, except for each of us on our own to-do list. It’s up to us to accomplish what we say we’re going to do. Or not.
The facilitator, the fearless reader and writer, Gabi Coatsworth, is a Brit who sounds awesome even when chastising you, and by you, I mean me.
ME: “I”m going to check out Scrivener, attend BinderCon, submit 3-5 essays, blog 3x a week, try NaNoWriMo for the first time, learn WordPress, and maybe go to a couple open-mics.”
GABI: “Bravo darling! Good for you! That’s the spirit, but shall we, I don’t know, perhaps you should leave something for the rest of the year? What can you get done for next month?”
ME: “I’ll write a blog a week, submit some essays, at least three. And attend BinderCon. Better?”
And we went on to the next overachiever.
What we’re writing is not important, but the common goal of hard work, time management, and generous support holds each of us accountable, month after month, to each other and to ourselves.
There is support in accountability.
If you say you’re going to do something, then you should by all means attempt to do it. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but at least you can say you tried.
Road races, rallies, or writing rendezvous, showing up and speaking your intention aloud is often the best thing to do to get to the next step.
Maybe you won’t get there by next month, but the mold has been cast, the words have been set, and action is sure to follow if not today, then tomorrow. Or the day after that.