The Business and Craft of Writing: The Importance of Accountability and Stickers

I wrote my first book back in middle school. I was in fifth or sixth grade when I first put down the story in my head into a spiral notebook. I made some occasional progress. Then in seventh grade, one of my teachers found out I was writing a book and asked me to read it to her English class. Suddenly everything I’d written over the last couple of years wasn’t enough. I had to pick up my writing pace or else I’d show up without anything to share.

Yikes.

I did finish that book, but then stopped writing stories for a long time.

After college and with my first job, I cautiously made my way back into writing stories. But honestly, I spent more time talking or thinking about wanting to write than I did actual writing.

Pro Tip: only dreaming about writing does not a writer make.

Once I found myself with a critique group and a commitment to *someone else* to bring in at least 1000 words each week, my writing output increased. But then, I moved away and that critique group fizzled out. I tried getting a couple friends together to do an online group, but nothing really stuck.

The year after that critique group, I think I wrote 1000 words in total. Double yikes.

I needed something to hold myself accountable.

Enter this video from Victoria/V.E. Schwab:

I admit, I was skeptical. I’m not really a sticker person.

BUT IT WORKED.

The first month I tried the stickers, I wrote a total of 7 days. I was both amazed and horrified. I had written more that month than I had in over a year. Wohoo! But also, I knew I wasn’t writing that often, but surely, surely, I was writing more often than that?

Pro Tip 2: The stickers do not lie, folks.

I kept going with the stickers and cheered as my numbers and my stickers went up.

At this point in time, the sticker calendar is the best thing I’ve found to keep myself accountable. Critique groups are amazing, wonderful things and the people who make up the groups I’m currently in are even more so, but people are more understanding than stickers.

I can fudge how much I’ve been writing when I talk to other people. I don’t realize that’s what I’m doing, but deep down, I don’t want to admit that I slacked for whatever reason on my writing, even if it was a completely, 100% totally valid excuse.

But when I look at the stickers on my calendar, I can see how much I actually did.

Pro Tip 3: If you want to be a writer, then you gotta write. It doesn’t have to be every day or all that much. But if you want to get *published,* then you gotta be accountable for your writing. Ain’t nobody who gonna hold you responsible for the rest of your life, except you.

If you find yourself in the same position I’ve found myself in multiple times, may I suggest you make your way down to the dollar store and buy a cheap set of stickers and a calendar?

Even if you decide not to keep going with that method, you’ll learn a lot about your personal writing method.

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