It doesn't matter what goal you set out to achieve. Your motivation to work toward it fluctuates over time. A shining example of that would be New Year's resolutions. We all failed to achieve one or more New Year's resolutions over time. But why do we stuff our faces with cake after day six when we promised to lose 10 pounds?
Kathy Caprino, an internationally-recognized career and executive success coach, stated that approximately 80% of goals fail, and she attributed three main reasons for this occurrence.
- Your behavior will only change after you change your consciousness.
- You don't have an accountability structure to help you sustain change.
- Your fear and resistance to change, fight against your motivation to complete big goals.
In this post, we will focus on reason number two, the accountability structure and how to find a writing accountability group that's online. However, suppose you are struggling with reasons number one and three when it comes to writing your book. In that case, I suggest that you get hold of us and voice your concerns over a consulting session.
What is an accountability structure?
Imagine that you decided to tick one goal off your bucket list: writing a novel. You finally manage to jot down the ideas that have been swirling in your mind for years on paper. You summarize the characters and the world you would like to build on paper and finally create that word doc on your laptop with the name of your novel.
On the wall in front of your workstation, you put up a poster saying: 'I will write two hours a day.' You even go so far as to set up ambitious goals and put them down in writing as well. You start off firing on all cylinders, and you feel as if nothing can come in your way.
You identified your writing challenges and planned your writing productivity schedule for your writing project. But sooner rather than later, life gets in the way, and your daily writing schedule gets compromised.
The following week, you have to work late or go on a business trip. The children need help with their homework, or you need to go out on those late-night drugstore runs. The lamp in the living room must be replaced, the dog needs to be walked, the laundry needs to be sorted. At first, you skip a day or two and get back on the horse. But soon, weeks go by without you touching that word document.
Now imagine, you had someone trying to achieve the same goal, with similar challenges? After that evening of doing a supermarket run and coming home exhausted, you feel like you will skip writing tonight. But then you get a message from your friend explaining the terrible day they had, but that they are about to start writing. Wouldn't that motivate you to also get it together and go sit down and write a little, even for just an hour?
This is an excellent example of an accountability structure. An accountability structure consists of other people in a similar situation trying to achieve a similar goal. They consciously or subconsciously support and inspire you to continue working toward your own goal and strengthening your writing habit.
What does an accountability group do?
Kathy Caprino states: 'Most of us need some great outside help and an ongoing accountability structure to keep going towards our highest growth just when we want to bail.' In addition, The American Society of Training and Development studied accountability and found that people are 65% more likely to reach their goals when they've shared them with someone else. Even better, people are 95% more likely to achieve their goals when they share them with a group and meet regularly to review them.
There are numerous reasons why the odds for successfully completing goals are improved when individuals become part of an accountability group.
The first reason is due to support on a visible and invisible layer. Visibly, individuals receive emotional, verbal support from the accountability group. This includes the 'come on, you can do it' and the 'well done' verbal affirmations. But there is also the invisible support form.
Thanks to our empathy and associations skills, individuals find subconscious inspiration and motivation through the actions of others. When you are had a tough day at work and feel particularly lazy in the afternoon, you probably won't quit after hearing another member in the writing group is working while suffering from flu.
Apart from motivating and supporting each other, an accountability group is also a platform for sharing ideas and fostering growth. Individuals within a functional accountability group learn new tools from one another that they could then apply on their own journey. This makes overcoming future challenges easier and increases the odds of achieving that writing goal.
For better or for worse, we all possess a certain amount of the 'Keeping up with the Joneses 'gene. Unlike when it comes to spending money foolishly on luxuries, this trait has a more positive effect in the realm of writing accountability groups. A group member may feel a certain sense of envy if they underperformed during a particular week and need to listen to the other group members boast about their productive weeks.
These individuals will make sure that it doesn't happen again and even try to outperform the others in certain areas. This will lead toward a positive loop in the group, and in this scenario, success fosters success.
Now that you understand the function and mission of an accountability group let's look at what you as a writer should be looking out for before signing up for such a group.
What to look for in an accountability group? What makes a good accountability group?
The characteristics of an accountability group, or online writing group, would differ depending on its function. Let's investigate accountability groups focusing on getting books out to the market from now on. These accountability groups could be broad and offer support from the first pen on paper to print.
In this article, we will focus on a specific genre of accountability groups, namely 'Finish Your Book Faster Weekly Accountability Group'. This type of writing group offers support and encouragement through outlining, writing, and the self-editing process.
When you are searching for such a writing community to encourage and help you speed things up a bit, there are certain things that you should look out for in order to achieve the optimal experience. They include size and structure (more on this coming up) thing that you need to look out for is the group size.
Although social media groups are also beneficial, these groups tend to be big, and individuals can disappear in the crowd. Some may experience 'stage fright' and might find it hard to share their progress. Getting proper feedback could also be challenging as big groups tend to digress. Find an accountability group with no more than 6 people.
If you struggle to find such a group, and you end up with only one accountability partner, don't fret. A one-on-one partnership is perfect for keeping each other accountable and keeping the ball rolling. Although you won't be receiving diverse feedback streams, the accountability focus is more prominent when there are just two people watching out for one another.
How do I find an online accountability group for writing?
Finding out WHAT to look for is as essential as WHERE. As I mentioned before, there are various accountability groups when it comes to writing. You should find the one with a clearly defined purpose that resonates with your writing needs. If you are already in the editing phase of your book, joining a 'Finding Your Muse' group wouldn't suffice.
Make sure to find the right fit and that you have weak ties with the members. The most important thing you should have in common with them is your mutual goal. Don't join a group with friends or family members as the push and feedback you would receive won't be objective in nature.
Make sure that you can adhere to the scheduled times set out for meetings. If, for whatever reason, you see from the start that you would be struggling with the days or times, see if the group could match your needs. If this is not possible, you need to find another group that does. Showing up once a month for a meeting would waste your time and theirs.
Now that you are sure WHAT you are looking for, it is time to get out there and find that fantastic accountability group that would send your book to the shelves in no time.
You could go old school and post flyers at the community center or library of your town. Perhaps going to the English or Literature department of the local University could work. But the easiest way to do so is to go online. You could scour the internet for online writing groups, approach writing conference attendees, or search social media platforms. An easy alternative would be to explore our accountability group here.
In short, make sure that the group's mission matches your goals, the parameters are clearly defined, and that the group operates to optimal efficiency. The last you want is another distraction that sucks time up that you could've used to spend with your family, working, relaxing, or writing your own book.
How do you run an online accountability group?
Remember the aim of the game: 'Finishing Your Book Faster.'
We developed a framework that delivers optimal results through mind-numbing research, endless hours of consulting with writers, and trial and error. The first important thing to keep in consideration, as mentioned before, is the group size. The group should remain small, with six members being the maximum.
You need to spend more time writing your book than discussing your book. That is why ideally, meetings should be between 15 to 30 minutes, once a week. During these meetings, a set structure consisting of rounds should be adhered to maximize efficiency.
During the first round, each member should check in with only three to five words that describe their emotional state. In the second round, members state their goals from the previous week. They should also indicate if they achieved these goals or not and where they need help. The time limit per member should be around two minutes.
Members are allowed to offer help, offer words of encouragement, or celebrate wins. Elaborate discussions on help or sharing thoughts between two members should be discussed after the meeting. These meetings should be to the point, with the primary focus being on progress.
In the last round, members should state their goals for the following week. Once these goals are laid out on the table, individual members could set up meetings with other members for after the meeting. The total duration of the session should not exceed 30 minutes, where a 20-minute session is an optimal target.
Our online writing accountability group
We offer access to an accountability group within the bounds of the parameters mentioned above. The onboarding process includes free documents such as PDF documents to help members build the habit of writing more often and faster with writing prompts.
Members will also gain access to a Google Sheet to record writing speed, mood, location, and time. Over time, this will indicate the optimal places and times for writing fast and efficiently. In addition, members will also be introduced to the SMART goal format. This is another tool that would supplement their writing and improve feedback during accountability group meetings.
If you are interested in learning more about our onboarding process, weekly meetings, and accountability group proceedings, explore this page here.