Setting Up Virtual Writing Accountability Systems

by | Apr 22, 2020

Writing can be lonely. Staring at your own computer screen day after day can get tedious, and the long time frame of most academic writing means that we have to chug along on projects that often go months without feedback or social validation. This can make it hard to keep at the daily writing, even though we know it’s necessary to get our work done.

Setting up virtual writing accountability systems allows you to get the social support and validation you need to finish your writing projects, and makes the process much more fun as well.

So how do you set up virtual writing accountability systems that fit your goals, time, and resources? Check out the video above or read on below.

Accountability keeps us on track

Since much writing is done alone, it’s easy to let tasks that feel more urgent and timely take precedence. Realizing it’s been a few days or even weeks since we last worked on that manuscript is a common experience for most academics. Writing accountability systems can help you keep your writing top of mind.

Accountability builds community

Even the most solitary of writers needs community—fellow humans with whom you can commiserate and share your writing journey. Building systems into your writing routine that ensure community can help you keep moving on your projects. Virtual community is vital to feel supported in your work, and there are many ways you can set these up.

Easy systems to track accountability

There are a bunch of ways you can structure your virtual writing accountability systems and it’s worth it to play around and find the tools, frequency, and contexts that work for you and your community. Some ideas:

Shared Google calendar

Invite other writers to join you and share the calendar amongst yourselves. Each person can put an X on the days they write and you can build a group of Xs together!

Social media

Find a social media platform all your writing accountability buddies can agree on. The platform can be public like Twitter or private like Slack. Set up a hashtag for your group and use that to check in when you begin to write. Some ideas: #WritingClub, #TeamWriteEveryday, and #IWroteToday. If you’re using a public platform, you can also ask others to join the effort by using the hashtag. This connects you to both your specific group and the broader community of writers out there.

Virtual writing group meetings

Schedule virtual writing group meetings with your writing buddies. You can schedule meetings just to discuss each others’ work, circulating it beforehand. You can also schedule times to writing together virtually. Check in at the start and end of your meetings via your favorite video chat platform and make sure to share high fives and celebrate each others’ accomplishments, even for small things like making progress on a particularly challenging section or just getting words on the page.

No matter which virtual writing accountability system(s) you choose, they can help you stay on track, build community, and make writing a more pleasurable part of your everyday life.

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Kate Drabinski is the education director at Ideas on Fire, an avid bicyclist, and a senior lecturer in gender and women's studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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