3 Reasons Why Accountability For Writers Works

accountability for writers

For many years, I’ve been teaching from an accountability soapbox. Here’s what I wish every writer could understand: Accountability for writers doesn’t have to be  about harsh, rigid deadlines or word counts. It doesn’t have to be about bullying yourself into writing. Writing is hard enough. Enjoyable, yes, but also–let’s be honest–hard work. So many writers I mentor make it harder for themselves by acting as their own biggest bullies. But bullying doesn’t help in any sustainable way. On the other hand, gentle accountability for writers is about having a supportive, generous community you can check in with. It’s about getting grounded, talking craft, generating new work, and connecting. And guess what? I’ve tested this approach with myself, and writers across the globe. It works.

If you prefer persuasion in a list format, here are 3 reasons why accountability (of the gentle, community-sort) works for writers:

1. Writers are human.

Desiring rewards/acknowledgement is a natural facet of human behavior. “Neuroscientists have known for years that dopamine is linked to positive behavior reinforcement and the ‘ding, ding, ding’ jackpot feeling you get when you accomplish a goal. Recently they have also discovered the specific receptors that link dopamine directly to the formation of good and bad habits.” (Psychology Today Online)

Some of the things writers struggle with (deadlines, submissions, writing to achieve a goal) can shift towards a good habit when writers have accountability, either one-on-one or within a larger community.

“Dopamine is the fuel that keeps people motivated to persevere and achieve a goal. You have the power to increase your production of dopamine by changing your attitude and behavior.”(Psychology Today Online)

In a group setting like Airstream Dispatches, we’re bolstered and encouraged to make small changes to our writerly behaviors that ultimately impact goal achievement, and boost our dopamine, which continues the positive reinforcement loop. Supporting each other as writers and creating accountability experiences all adds up to more writing goals met.

2. Accountability makes us visible.

All the invisible stories and stuff we tell ourselves that limit or get in the way of reaching our goals becomes visible with accountability. The stuff we dream up in our heads, the drafts our friends never see, the character sketches and doubts and wonderings–all become visible when we gather with the spirit of support and growth. That’s one major reason I provide writing prompts with optional sharing/deadlines, via Airstream Dispatches. I’ve found that this gentle nudge to move forward and past the invisible stories in a writer’s head helps motivate us to show up and share what we’ve been working on.

3. Accountability creates community.

Even the most introverted or hermit writer still wants to feel “seen” or “understood.” The accountability in Airstream Dispatches gives writers a chance to show up and check in, it gives writers a chance to exercise their skills as readers (thereby working on their work without actually working on it…in other words, learning through the work of others, instead of continuing to stare at their own pages) Accountability, in this curated experience, will enliven and inspire, deepening your creative practice.

If you’re ready for a new type of accountability, Airstream Dispatches is the right place for you. It’s a chance for us to gather in this spirit to do meaningful creative work. This worldwide book club for writers brings together a group of dedicated creatives who want the same thing I do: new knowledge, fun, productivity, and connection—no strings attached. Is this you? Will you show up for yourself and your imagination, just once a month?


  • Cappagh (Cynthia Russell)

    Hello from T.C., former adult student at IAA! Oh, this is perfect . . . I want to be held accountable, on a routine of writing. AND, I have a wonderful subject to pursue, my mother’s family (my grandfather and grandmother with whom I lived ?-10 years, next in line is my mother, eldest child and her 1st brother, then her 2nd brother, born ‘late in life’ of my grandmother. I want to limit it to just these 5 persons, possibily.

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