Being Accountable by Elizabeth Mitchell

Kait’s opening post

this Round hit a nerve, I admit.  She points out that making excuses, feeling like a victim, is a choice.  The crux of the problem is the safety of being the victim, because you have someone or something else to blame. I admit, I play it safe far too often.  The day job, the family, the dogs, or just being too tired or empty-brained, all get in the way of getting my writing done.


However, no one has all the time in the world to do what they want, so choices must be made. If writing matters to me, I will get up early, stay up late, or not watch that TV show (curses to on-demand television).  “If something blows up your plans to write, you need to revise them.  MAKE some time to make up for the lost work time,” Kait says, and she is spot on.  RoW is a supportive place to be accountable, and to keep one from being too hard on oneself as well.


Another arena I often act like a victim is how I compare myself with others. I sometimes suffer from jealousy when I look at other RoWers’ goals and word counts. I am a slow writer, seldom able to lock my infernal editor in the laundry room.  I always forget that comparing myself to others is apples to oranges.  Kait posted a link to Chuck Wendig’s post

about word count and comparisons.  If you don’t follow his blog, think about doing so. I will give the caveat that, as my late mother-in-law would have said, he swears like a sailor. Even if you find strong language offensive, his posts are always interesting, and often grounding.


In the word count post, Mr. Wendig celebrates a day of writing 10,000 words.  He then immediately addresses the twinge of jealousy that hits some readers, including me, calling it bs.  Compare with yourself, not others.  Much as it hits me as the 90’s “personal best” my kids heard in school all the time, he’s right. “Sometimes, writing is a game of inches. Sometimes it’s a act of great, clumsy leaps. You gotta take pride in the small steps as much as in the big jumps.”


Mr. Wendig links to a plan to get the writing done. If I write 350 words a day five days a week, with weekends off, I would have the first draft of a novel at the end of a year.  With a little bit of found time, and found effort, I would be closer to my goals.  His last advice resonates: “Shut up and write.”

Who will jump into the accountability pool with me?


Elizabeth Mitchell

7 thoughts on “Being Accountable by Elizabeth Mitchell

  1. Oh, I’m in the accountability pool and wading in the deep end right now. I hope it continues. I’m tired of making excuses. I had to stop comparing myself with other writers because I know some of the more prolific ones don’t have a mind-draining day job like I have. I can’t do the same things they do. I have a very small writing window.

    I do follow Chuck’s blog. I have to overlook the swearing. LOL. But he really has good advice. He’s a little brutal sometimes, but sometimes we NEED brutal.

    1. I hear you, Lauralynn. I had to chuckle at your overlooking Chuck Wendig’s swearing. The end of his post is pretty brutal, but it was what I needed to hear. He also had a great point–he writes full time, and you (and I) don’t, and can’t. I am able to write in bits and spurts when I have time, and I find myself making time to do it. That means more to me than a massive word count.

      When I started my dissertation, a friend of mine gave me a tiny plastic tortoise. It sits on my computer at work, reminding me of what she said–it takes a lot of steady moving forward to finish a dissertation. The same is true of a novel, or a novella, or even a short story.

      I’m glad to have you in the accountability pool with me!

  2. I’m there with you, Elizabeth. There will be days when the words don’t come easy, but we still need to write. We need to sit there and put something down on the page (although, sometimes it’s just whining that I can’t find the words to write what I want to say). It’s why I sometimes have two documents open… one is my prompt for the other.

    But instead of being hard on ourselves, we can help each other… and push each other to get those words written.

    1. There’s a lot to be said about just showing up (which I’m stealing from Kristen Lamb). I do a lot of that whining, but sometimes it transmutes into one of my characters whining about something, and that’s good.

      I love your idea of not being hard on ourselves but helping each other and pushing each other. That sounds lovely–not easy, but lovely.

  3. Personally, I’d much rather support an encourage than push….because I can’t know truly what anyone else’s life is. My own life? Almost perfectly set up for writing. My brain? More than a little hyperactive. My need for sleep? Less than many (and I tend to have fertile dreams, which means even sleep time can be writing-productive).

    I’m reminded of a scene in M*A*S*H. Extremely mild-mannered Father Mulcahy is bemoaning the fact that his boxing training kicked in when a patient threatened a nurse, resulting in him punching the man. He’s understandably upset with himself, and beating himself up about it.

    Hawkeye tells him that he did his best to reason with the man, who wanted to be treated by a doctor before more critically injured patients), and that he is, after all, human.

    “Some best,” the priest responds.

    “Best is best,” Hawkeye answers, and that has stuck with me.

    Today’s best might not be as good as tomorrow’s, for any of us. Or it might be better than today’s. This year, I have lots of writing time – my kids aren’t little anymore, and they’re the independent sort,ad I don’t work outside the home. Come September, though, my oldest will be old enough to get a job, and he’s been wanting to do that for years. He’s another couple of years from being old enough to drive legally, though, and we live rurally, so I will be spending some time helping him get to and from – and more, maybe, entertaining and connecting a daughter who’s used to having her big brother around. I also might take a part-time job in the next year or two –

    And these things will cut down on the freedom I have now to write as I please, when I please. I’ll need to do more in the way of planning and committing to writing time than I do today. I might be less prolific for a while – or the new circumstances might spur a new level of focus, so that my writing time accomplishes more.

    The only day we can do anything about is today. The only person to compare with or compete with is ourselves. I tend to look back often, and see where I was a year, two, five, or ten ago. I’ve come a long way since then…

    And I’ll bet you have too! =)

    1. Thanks for sharing your view of things, Shan. I like the “Best is best,” quote. That is all one can do, after all. And yes, I’ve changed a lot. 🙂 I used to live in the past or the future, but never the present. I’m much more focused on today these days.

      I am finding ways to carve time to write, because it’s important to me–that is probably the biggest (and best) change.

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