Creating a System of Accountability in YA Writer Groups - Uncharted

Creating a System of Accountability in YA Writer Groups

By Riv Begun

Imagine this: a mug of hot coffee in your hand, a pencil and notebook in your backpack, and a group of fellow writers all sitting at the round table of a local bookstore cafe, waiting to talk about your writing.

Or this: It’s Thursday night. You’ve wrapped your favorite blanket around your shoulders and poured yourself some cereal and milk for dinner. You log on to Zoom and get to discuss your writing with other writers from all over the world.

Writer groups can take many forms, but for a writer they can be a lifeline, providing support, critique, community, and accountability. But how do you make sure your writing group sticks to their writing? We’ve compiled some tips for creating systems of accountability in YA writer groups.

Define your accountability group

Find people as excited about writing as you and make sure you all understand the expectations of your group. Start out your relationship by listing your priorities and goals for the group, such as making sure to write every day or getting a certain word count in once a week. Define what you are looking for from your group, whether you want detailed feedback, general feedback, or just other people to push you to accomplish your goals.

Shared Google calendar

Make sure no one misses a beat when they look at their calendar. It’s a great way to make sure everyone shows up to your meeting, and that they can keep track of when pages are due or when feedback is due. Email reminders on a routine basis are also great ways to keep track of due dates.

Scheduling virtual or in-person writing group meetings

Schedule writing dates outside of your normal feedback meetings. For some writers, it helps to write around others. Schedule one time a week or every two weeks when everyone from your writing group joins just to write together. Check in at the start and end of your meetings, compare word counts if that motivates your group, and share high fives to celebrate each other’s progress.

Pick a Leader

Find an organized member of your writing group to send e-mails, add calendar dates for meetings, and to track progress. Choose a system of communication that works for everyone, such as E-mail, Whatsapp, or an SMS group.

Pick a manageable and measurable goal

Choose a certain number of pages for people to turn in each week or a certain number of words per week. Make sure to not go overboard, especially since many writers have other commitments and jobs in their daily lives. Too high of a goal can sometimes make people abandon their work.

Try the SMARTgoal system:

●Specific–target a specific area for improvement.

●Measurable–quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.

●Assignable–specify who will do it.

●Realistic–state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.

●Time-related–specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Finding the right community can be a game-changer for a writer, but so can finding the right system so that community keeps each other accountable.

Good luck and happy writing!

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