As habit expert Gretchen Rubin says (on Twitter, but also in her books), “You manage what you measure.” I saw that fact firsthand this past month when, to quote my kids’ lingo, I totally crushed National Novel Writing Month.

I didn’t hit the 50,000-word goal established by the official NaNoWriMo team, but by the end of November 30th, I’d written exactly 30,067 words of fiction. For me, that is an ENORMOUS win. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I crushed it, and I’m celebrating by . . . not giving up. Also, I treated myself to a massage then a giant ginger cookie at Yum Bakery in Minnetonka. But I digress.

I would not have consistently written during 28 out of the 30 days in November if I wasn’t involved in an online accountability group. Sure, I would have written on some of the days, but I would have also been caught up in analysis paralysis about where the story was going and many other aspects of writing, most of which is NOT WRITING. I know that because over-analysis is how I’ve been writing and NOT WRITING for years.

I created the Facebook accountability group myself because I’m a control freak. No. Well, sort of. I created it because I wasn’t already part of something designed the way I wanted it to be designed. I’m in a lot of Facebook groups and they all have their uses, but many are focused on the end product—on the published pieces and submission information that precede the published pieces. (On that note, I did have a short story published this week, which duly distracted me for a day.)

I needed accountability partners who were solely focused on process, on showing up even when I don’t feel like writing, and forging ahead even when there are many unanswered questions about my work and where its going. As frustrating as it can be, I only learn more about my novel by WRITING IT. I do like stopping to outline here and there to rethink ideas or brainstorm new ideas, but it is very easy to spend more time on that part than on the actual writing. And writing is where it’s at, you guys. The process of writing is how we (at least how I) understand more about my story.

For a bit more about what it’s been like to write long again after eight years of essays, freelance articles, and short stories, you can check out the post I shared here a few weeks ago.

Now onto the magic of accountability partners. When I set up the Facebook group, I had promised to dissolve it in December so it wouldn’t become another distraction for all of us who are in it. But I already told the group I can’t keep that promise. I created that system of accountability because I suspected the daily check-ins would help me. I was right, and it has helped other people, too. So we’re staying together and you’re welcome to join us if you’d like. Send me an email and I will hook you up. (ninabadzinblog@gmail.com)

The group description is here: 

This group is here for NO NONSENSE accountability and daily nudges from yours truly to remind you not to let the writing become the last priority. As Annie Dillard says in her book The Writing Life, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.” So yes, we all have lots of other things on our plates, but we are in this group because we feel best when writing is one of those things–at least on most days–even if it’s just a little bit of writing. All writers are welcome here: fiction, nonfiction, book length or short stories, and blog posts and short essays. We will engage in lots of high-fiving celebration and daily check-ins to promote accountability. Let’s write, people!

And just like that, it’s December. Have a great weekend everyone! 

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Nina Badzin is a freelance writer, a lead writing instructor at ModernWell in Minneapolis as well as ModernWell's book club director. She reviews 50 books a year on her blog, writes reviews for other sites, and has a friendship advice column at The HerStories Project. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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