You love writing. You want so badly to become a well-known writer one day. You want your words to go out to the world and make an impact.
Unfortunately, there is a problem.
You seem unable to finish writing anything!
You start your story effortlessly, but then, your motivation floats away like bubbles in the wind. A new idea catches your eye and steals your heart. Thus, the cycle begins all over again.
Still, quitting is not an option. Your dream is too big, too important.
You try everything you can. You ask your parents or a friend to help hold you accountable, but you still seem unable to finish writing anything. Maybe the problem is that life keeps getting in the way, causing others to forget they were supposed to help you, or perhaps, they ended up not having time to help.
Maybe, what you find is that your desire to finish writing dwindles when someone is trying to keep you accountable.
Well, is all hope lost?
In this post, I want to help you discover how to finish writing projects you have always wanted to complete. I want to help you have better consistency, higher productivity, and greater joy in writing.
You Need Accountability To Finish Writing Projects
First, you need accountability.
Here we shall define accountability as a person being held responsible by someone, or something, to fulfill a set goal.
Having nothing to hold you to account in your writing makes it difficult to finish writing projects. Why is that? Because, if your writing is not a responsibility, then it can be abandoned as soon as a new idea steals your passion for what you started.
But even if you do have some accountability going on, it’s hard to finish writing when you have the wrong type of accountability. If it’s not compatible with you, it can be ineffective, even counterproductive.
Having accountability that works with your needs is vitally important. It can help you finish writing what you feared you would never complete.
So let’s look at the two basic sources of accountability that exist.
Internal sources are the desires you have when it comes to your writing, the ones you have chosen to be answerable to fulfilling. Goals, or your motivation for writing, would be examples of internal sources of accountability.
External sources of accountability are when you have one or more people/things outside of yourself holding you responsible for completing your goal.
Of course, there are all kinds of internal and external sources. But not every type of accountability will work for every type of writer. The question, then, is what type of accountability is going to work best for you personally.
What Are The Four Tendencies?
Each of us has different tendencies that make some sources of accountability more effective than others.
“Tendency” is a term from Gretchen Rubin’s bestselling book, The Four Tendencies.
Gretchen Rubin explores happiness and human nature. She’s the author of bestsellers, is a blogger, and an award-winning podcaster, who has had her work written up in a medical journal.
The tendencies that Gretchen Rubin calls out deal with how people react to internal and external expectations. Expectations correlate with accountability, so we will look at how our tendencies affect how we handle accountability sources.
Want to figure out your tendencies? Here is Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies Quiz!
Gretchen Rubin says that there are four basic tendencies and that every person has a place within those tendencies. Those tendencies are Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.
The Upholder is a person who meets outer expectations and inner expectations. Upholders are likely to do well with both internal and external accountability.
The Questioner is someone who resists outer expectations while meeting inner expectations. Questioners generally react well to internal accountability yet not so well with external accountability.
The Obliger is a person who meets outer expectations while resisting inner expectations. For Obligers, an external source of accountability tends to work while an internal accountability source isn’t as helpful.
Finally, the Rebel is someone who resists outer expectations and inner expectations. Rebels are not as likely to appreciate reporting to someone about what they have done and what they have not done. Rebels are, in fact, more likely to succeed once they have firmly established their motive for writing.
Your first step to finishing your writing then is to find sources of accountability that work with your specific tendencies.
How I Am Discovering My Sources of Accountability
We’ve explored multiple sources of accountability, you know your tendency, and now you’re done. Right?
I thought I was, but I was missing one final piece. That piece is:
People are complex.
I do not believe I can be defined by one tendency category alone, nor do I accept that you can. That means you may not find the sources of accountability that work best for you right out the gate. That’s okay. Trial and error are how we learn, grow, and experience new things.
To help, I would like to give a personal example of searching through accountability sources that did, and did not, work for me.
Year after year, I made resolutions for myself. They never worked.
Then I heard about the four tendencies. I learned I was an Obliger.
Learning this, I joined an accountability group. My consistency in writing improved a little but not much.
That’s when I realized I’m more than just an Obliger. As a person, I am complex. I will not react well to every source of external accountability, nor will every internal accountability source be repulsive to me.
Therefore, even though I rely heavily on external accountability, I can still use some internal accountability sources.
Having joined the Young Writers Workshop, I was confronted with the question and teaching of “motive for writing.” This made quite a difference in my consistency and productivity.
There was a time when I thought telling people what I was writing about made me no longer interested in completing my story. Turns out, that was not my issue for being able to finish writing projects, as I learned when I joined a critique group.
In my critique group, I started submitting portions of my writing. Getting critique from my fellow writers proved beneficial to my consistency and productivity. I was finally able to write beyond the point I had gotten in any writing project for a long time.
Joining the Young Writers Workshop Community alone boosted my consistency. Journeying with others, helping and encouraging each other to accomplish our goals, allows you to share in their joy, making your happiness more complete.
Being happy and seeing others succeed leads to excitement which is beneficial to any writer. That’s why I didn’t leave my accountability group.
I hope this experience from my own life will help you as you try to decide what will work best for you.
11 Tips and Tricks to Help You Finish Writing Your Story
We talked about the need for motivation and accountability. Now let’s look at eleven practical tips that can help boost your consistency.
Numbers 1 – 2 are purely tips that can help you as a writer. Numbers 3 – 7 are internal accountability sources, and numbers 8 – 11 are external accountability sources, all of which could help your consistency.
Of course, if you disagree with what I have put in each category that’s fine. Some of these could change places, based on whether you chose to answer to a friend or family member, a mentor, or only to yourself.
I chose the categories based on what I believed they were most conducive towards personally.
1. Have Only One Option – A Writing Tip
Have you ever been down a candy aisle, seen all the different options, and just stood there because you didn’t know what to choose? I have.
One time I went to a store that had every candy and snack you could imagine, and if that wasn’t enough, they had them in every flavor ever made.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted!
Analysis paralysis means that your ability to make a decision is “paralyzed” due to overthinking or overanalyzing a situation.
I couldn’t choose what to get because there were so many choices; I began to overthink.
Some of you can’t finish writing your stories because you’ve succumbed to this problem. Having multiple projects that you want to finish writing isn’t necessarily bad, but it can make life a little bit harder.
As a result, if you’re facing this problem, the solution is to focus on one project that you want to finish writing and then move on to the next.
But how do you pick a project? Well, you want to choose an idea that will carry your interest all the way through.
You should also choose one that you don’t want published right away. As a beginner you want to focus on practicing your writing craft not perfecting your work for a publisher.
Finally, pick one that is similar to what you want to start writing. Even if you want to write in multiple genres or over multiple subjects, choose one to practice first, then pick a project to finish writing based on that.
2. You Haven’t Found The Right Spot – A Writing Tip
This one can be tricky. It’s about where you write. Maybe you write in a place that is loud and chaotic. Perhaps you write where it’s quiet and peaceful.
Which place is better?
Your first thought maybe the quiet and peaceful place. But let me rephrase. Do you write somewhere energetic and fun or silent and isolated?
Suddenly, the first two ideas sound more attractive than the second.
The truth is that everyone is different. What boosts creativity for one person doesn’t necessarily do the same for another.
It’s hard to finish writing projects in a place that is opposed to your needs.
Of course, noise isn’t the only thing to consider, there are other potential distractions, such as people or social media.
Also, think of what the space is used for already. For instance, are you writing in the same place you sleep? That may help you finish writing, but it could also affect your sleep. We wouldn’t want that!
The American Sleep Association tells us just how important sleep is in their article How Important Is Sleep for the Body & Mind?
On the other side, writing where you work could lower your writing productivity, so keep these types of things in mind when picking a spot to write.
3. Create a Schedule – An Internal Accountability Source
Making a schedule for when and what you write can be very helpful for your writing process.
For those who blog, write novels, and do research all at one time, a schedule that focuses on days of the week to set aside for each aspect of their writing may work best.
Are you most creative in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
Scheduling your writing time around the part of the day when you’re most creative could be beneficial. Writing outside that time can be hard on your creativity.
But, what if you can’t write at that time of day? Will you never finish writing those projects? Don’t fear. It’s still possible to finish writing your story.
Fortunately, our brains adapt. It may take more discipline to write, but it’s worth it.
With time, your mind will adjust and realize that at this time of day, you write, so it needs to get into “writing mode.”
Generally, it takes about two months to form a habit. Thus, your motivation comes in again. Is it worth it to finish writing? Is your reason to write so ingrained in your desires that it’s only reasonable to stick with it? Yes? Great!
A schedule can be as complex or as general as you want, depending on what works best for you.
Either way, making a schedule can keep you from last-minute panics, and not Important panicking can do wonders for your sanity 😉.
You’ve got this!
4. Deadlines – An Internal Accountability Source
Having deadlines keeps things structured. Without a deadline, it becomes easy to push writing off indefinitely. Then you may never be able to finish writing projects. After all, you could always work on it tomorrow.
Also, deadlines help you get ready for the professional world of writing. If that’s your dream one day, practicing now will help you not burn out later.
Of course, you want to be sure that you’re setting deadlines that’ll help you, not defeat you. How do we do this? Keep record.
What I mean is, set mini-deadlines first. Such as when the first half of a chapter needs to be completed versus the whole book. That way you can see if the goal is realistic for you. Then adjust as you need.
No one expects you to finish your first full-length novel as quickly as it takes a long time professional, and you probably shouldn’t either.
5. S.M.A.R.T. Goals – An Internal Accountability Source
S.M.A.R.T. goals are step-by-step type goals. An example of this would be if you said, “I will finish the first draft of my writing project by the end of this month.” Or, you might say, “This month I will write for 15 minutes a day for five days a week.”
What makes S.M.A.R.T. goals a great source of accountability is that they help boost your confidence as you complete one after another.
Seeing yourself succeed again and again is likely to lead to greater consistency in writing, which helps you finish writing projects.
If you want to learn more about making S.M.A.R.T. goals you can read ScriptMag’s post, Goal Setting 101: Setting Writing Goals The SMART Way.
6. Put Skin in the Game – An Internal Accountability Source
Putting money into something can be a real help to some people. It can trigger something that demands action because you have sacrificed hard-earned money for it.
If this is the case for you, then maybe you could pay for a service that helps further your writing, such as Grammarly premium. Other options are utilizing a writing community that isn’t free or entering a competition that requires you to pay before entering.
7. Don’t Tell Anybody – An Internal Accountability Source
Telling people what you’re writing about can cause your brain to feel the rewards of writing without actually sitting down to finish writing something. If your greatest desire is to tell someone about your story, then make that the driving force you use to finish writing. Tell no one.
8. Positive & Negative Reinforcement – An External Accountability Source
Positive reinforcement means you get a reward for completing a goal. Of course, the reward should push you deeper into the habit.
Negative reinforcement is to get a penalty for not achieving a goal. Like the reward, your penalty should push you towards success; to do that, it needs to be something that is “anti-you”
An example of how positive and negative reinforcement can work is my sister and brother-in-law. They had budgeted fun money that would go to my brother-in-law each week if he exercised a certain number of days in those weeks. If he did not complete the goal, that money would go to my sister, but not only that he had to run as well. My brother-in-law hates running (needless to say, he almost always achieved his goal).
What rewards or punishments you should have will depend on how you react to each. Some people choose to utilize only one or the other reinforcement.
9. Enter Something – An External Accountability Source
Competitive people may want to use competitions as a practical way of helping finish writing projects.
Competitions not only have the competitive aspect, but they also have deadlines. Therefore, you have to complete your project on time.
10. A Coach or Mentor – An External Accountability Source
A coach or mentor can be a tremendous source of wisdom and advice, as well as a source of encouragement.
Mentors are often people who have already traveled down the path you are heading and can offer you information and help. Of course, if you aren’t paying them, you probably need to trade your services for theirs and, of course, respect their time.
11. A Place to Find Accountability & Help To Finish Writing – An External Accountability Source
There is a place where you can explore multiple accountability sources to see what fits you best. What place is that? A writing group.
A writing group, or writing community, often has resources that can help to boost your consistency and productivity, which leads to you being able to finish writing projects.
In writing communities, you feel connected and at home, whether the community is in person or online, like in the Young Writers Workshop. You find friends for life, people who love writing as much as you do, which is a real help for those who don’t have that in their everyday life.
There are also accountability and critique groups, mentors, and competitions in some writing communities.
Yet, the great thing about these communities is that everyone wants to help you succeed since they understand how important your dream is.
If you are interested in joining a writing community like this, we would love to have you join us Here at the Young Writers Workshop!
Your Next Step
We already talked about the importance of accountability. Then, we went over what the two types of accountability sources are. After that, we looked into our tendencies and how they affect what accountability sources are most effective for us as individuals. Then, we talked about motivation and how it can help us finish writing projects. Finally, we went over some tips and tricks that you can use to help boost your consistency.
So now, we would like to offer you a free PDF that will also help you finish writing your story for the world to see.
Within this free resource you will find a personal example from bestselling, award-winning author, Jaquelle Ferris about her journey with consistency. She also provides several practical tips for you to use.