I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, September 6, 2010

Accountability

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/147870
Writing may be a solitary profession, but it takes teamwork to create a novel.

July was a rough month for me--physically and emotionally. I realized I needed to take a step back in order to move forward. Sounds kind of like a contradiction, huh? I decided to do a social networking fast in order to focus on my novel. I didn't read or comment on blogs, spent very little time on Twitter or Facebook, and didn't do much web surfing.

Katie Ganshert wrote a terrific article in the summer issue of Voices about "Pursuing the Dream When Time is Scarce". While I loved the entire article, the one thing that really spoke to me was setting up a sacred writing time. Katie gets up every morning at 4 a.m. to spend time with God, and then to write before she gets ready for her day job as a elementary teacher.

In August I wanted to write the rough draft of my novel in 31 days. Wow, my own personal Nanowrimo. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. to write for an hour before it was time to get ready for my day job. I did a couple of things to prepare--I downloaded an online egg timer and I did some basic plotting. I set the timer for 30 minutes at a time, and then kept track of my of my word count. I wrote 40,000 words in 31 days. Even though I didn't make my goal, I completed two-thirds of the story and can write a full synopsis.

The biggest blessing I received from my novel writing month was having an accountability partner. I met Michelle Lim through Ponderer Amy and enjoyed chatting with her in the My Book Therapy chats. We chatted one afternoon and started brainstorming. From then on, Michelle sent me encouraging e-mails on a daily basis and spent a couple of hours a day pondering and brainstorming the next chapters in my novel. She helped me to create terrific characters whose unique qualities have taken my story to a deeper level. And I'm excited to say Michelle completed the rough draft of her novel by the end of August. So proud of her. I can't wait to meet her in person at the ACFW conference in ten days.

What about you? Do you have an accountability partner who helps you stay on task and possibly brainstorms with you?

Lisa Jordan
www.lisajordanbooks.com

23 comments:

  1. Lisa, your post has challenged me to be be accountable for my time. I don't waste time per se, I just cram too much in the time I have. God has been speaking to me lately about that. Seems like I want to do everything...write, pottery, teach in the schools 3 days a week...I realize I, too, need to take a step back and decide exactly what is it God wants me to do! Thanks for the advice on how to do it!

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  2. I have a wonderful brainstorming partner: Shelly Dippel. She's so wonderful that when I hated the ending of one of my books, she actually dreamed about my story one night. I love her dream ending and plan to change it! The Bible's words "two are better than one" ring true when it comes to brainstorming!

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  3. Wonderful report, Lisa, and applaud your WIP progress in light of all you do (and Michelle's). Bravo! Proud of both of you and grateful for the encouraging fellow writers God puts in our lives and lets us network with.

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  4. My critique groups--one nonfiction, one fiction--are both great places to brainstorm. And the weekly commitment provides writing accountability. I hate showing up without a chapter to submit! I'm going to download a virtual eggtimer today!

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  5. Pat, taking a step back was the best decision I made this summer. I embraced August with a happy heart and a strong sense of what God wanted me to do. I started prayer journaling, which changed my spiritual life for the better. I say go for it, friend!

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  6. Teri, Michelle told me she dreamed about my characters too! How funny is that? Her insight has helped me take my story to the next level. Remember what Susie said about breathtaking? Brainstorming with Michelle is breathtaking!

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  7. Thanks, Dee. Your friendship and encouragement warm my heart! I'm so thankful for the Ponderers who are such great supporters.

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  8. Beth, I LOVE the egg timer. It motivates me to write fast without editing because I want to write more and more to beat the previous number. I've found I can write 3000 words in two hours. The rough draft is allowed to be a mess. During editing I can add storyworld and the rest of the elements that make our novels shine.

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  9. YAY Lisa!! That's awesome, girl! :-)

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  10. You're an inspiration, Katie! I've slacked off the past week, but plan to get back into the swing of things this week.

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  11. I believe strongly in help others give in keeping us on track and motivated. I have an awesome local writing group and this lovely long distance friend in Colorado who have helped me finish my latest first draft in spite of writers block, flood and major life changes!

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  12. Awesome, Lisa. Good ideas...going to have to implement some of these. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Congratulations! That is such an encouraging testimony to the power of time accountability. I get up at 5am for a quiet time before I get ready to go to work. I would have to get to bed reeaaaally early to get up at 4 am to write. I tend to pull my cranky pants out of the closet when I don't get enough sleep. :)

    Maybe I will do a trial run and see what happens.

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  14. Awesome job LJ! You inspire me. I might have to try the egg timer with writing my thesis! I'm so close I can taste it...

    And definitely echoing the shout out to Michelle, she's solved many a dilemma I've gotten my characters into!

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  15. Shellie, I'm so with you. Even though I live in my own little writing world, I rely on others to help with brainstorming, motivation, encouragement, and research. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to write a novel.

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  16. You're welcome, Jenness, oh CEO of the Idea Oasis.

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  17. Sherrinda, believe it or not, but I wear my cranky pants less now that I'm getting up earlier. I'm also being diligent about going to bed earlier the night before. One thing I realized I didn't include in my post is I also do my prayer journaling before my day job begins. That helps me start the day with a fresh heart and a mind of clarity for God's leading throughout the day. And thanks for the congrats. :)

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  18. Amy, you're an inspiration to me in so many ways. I admire your dedication in training for marathons and writing a novel while working toward your doctorate! God gave Michelle an incredible gift. I'm so blessed she is sharing with me.

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  19. I belong to 2 critique groups - one meets monthly, the other meets semi-monthly. Knowing that a meeting is coming up gives me added incentive to get writing! Conversely, if a meeting has been canceled or postponed, I find myself getting just a bit lazy in the word-count department. :-)

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  20. Ava, I don't have local writing groups, but if I know someone is waiting for my chapters, I'm more motivated to keep writing. Without accountability, I'm very lazy. Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. Lisa,

    I appreciate your post. Sharing your testimony and what you are learning inspires and encourages this inexperienced writer. I am blessed to have a sweet friend (who shall remain nameless at the moment) who is helping me along, with accountability coming, I'm sure.

    I have not been able to master my goal of writing for an hour a day (eventually writing 1,000 words a day), but I am challenged to keep aspiring towards this goal. I picked up a lot from the other comments too. It is wonderful to hear the relationships you Ponderers have "grown" since your MBT retreat! :) Thanks for your honesty, Lisa.

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  22. Michelle Lim9/7/10, 1:07 AM

    Lisa you are a fantastic encouragement to me too!! When I am discouraged or petrified of the oh so eminent need to edit, you're right there with the boost I need. You even edit with detail- a huge investment of time. Having accountability buddies challenges to push harder and reach higher. I couldn't do it without you! And you too Amy, my other awesome writing buddy- who just gave me a huge idea of metaphor I needed in a scene! Accountability and inspiration is a powerful tandem.

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  23. Sorry to comment so late, LJ. Was taking my own little break from the Internet over Sunday-Monday. It's amazing what a mini-hiatus from the Internet once a month or so can do for a person!

    I've got an accountability partner, but she's not a writer. Her role is solely to help me keep moving in my story. She asks me how writing is going on a daily basis, requests word counts from time to time and encourages me!! She's so great!

    Great post and GOOD JOB on your novel progress. Woohoo!!

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