How to Hold Yourself Accountable to Writing

accountability habits milestones procrastination productivity May 04, 2023

If you're like me, you've had a habit of procrastinating for most of your life. School papers, college application essays, work projects, cleaning out your closet....basically anything and everything on your To-Do list. "I'll do it tomorrow" might as well be your personal tagline. 😂

But jokes aside, procrastination is a huge obstacle when it comes to achieving your goals. The good news is, you can and will overcome it and write your dream novel. 

The first thing to remember is that procrastination is not an identity. It is a habit - a broken behavioral pattern. So stop calling yourself a procrastinator because it is not part of your identity, it's not who you are, it's not something you can't change about yourself. And once you start viewing your tendency to procrastinate as a habit instead of your identity, you can find solutions and systems that work for you! You can finally write your book!

Holding yourself accountable for writing your novel is crucial to ensure that you make progress towards your writing goals and ultimately finish your book.

Here are some strategies to help you stay accountable and motivated throughout the writing process:

1. Enjoy what you're writing

Before we get into more "technical" strategies, I want to talk about making sure you are excited and enthusiastic about the story you are writing. I'm a big believer of digging into the true reason behind why we're procrastinating something, and sometimes that reason is something about your story idea not getting you excited to write. If writing your book seems like a chore, it might be a sign that something's wrong.

Maybe the overall idea is exciting, but you can't get yourself excited about writing the middle. Maybe you started writing and then ran into a bunch of plot issues that became too overwhelming or tedious to solve. OR maybe you're plenty excited, but you're equally as scared, overwhelmed, or full of self-doubt that you can't even sit down and start writing. Or you don't know where or how to start.

Whatever the deeper reason, it's important that you figure it out. Because the thing is, the more you get through your story, the more your novel starts to eat at you. You become so excited to get back to writing and you'll want to write all the time. So it's important to unlock the reason why you're lacking that excitement - and then you can find a solution. Whether it's an issue with your story or an issue with your mindset, pinpointing the underlying reason is an important step you need to take in order to move forward.

2. Set Specific Writing Goals

Setting specific and achievable goals is one of the most effective ways to hold yourself accountable. Create a plan to achieve these goals that works for your day-to-day life. Be realistic in setting your targets, but also challenge yourself to push beyond your comfort zone. Knowing you have a specific goal date will drive you towards it with ambition and clarity of what you're accomplishing. And if you have a habit of procrastinating, having a date to work towards definitely helps (even if you have to scramble a bit towards the end! 😉) Without goal dates it's very easy to fall into the never-ending cycle of constant revisions, doubts, procrastination, and feeling like you're not making any progress.

  • Tip: Break up your goal dates into smaller milestones. Working towards smaller milestones (instead of your grand goal of "finish my novel") will reduce overwhelm and make it much easier to achieve. Plus, every milestone you hit should be celebrated and will give you a big rush of confidence and motivation to keep going to the next one. When you reach a writing milestone, take time to acknowledge your progress and reward yourself for your hard work. Celebrating your achievements can help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your ultimate goal of finishing your novel.

3. Create a Writing Schedule

Establish a regular writing routine and make it a priority to stick to it. What that looks like depends on what makes sense in your life. Set aside a specific time(s) during the day when you will write, and treat those times as you would any other appointment or commitment. Use a planner or calendar to schedule your writing time, and make sure to block out distractions and other obligations during these periods.

4. Join a Writing Group or Find a Writing Buddy

Joining a writing group or membership program, or finding a writing buddy, is a great way to hold yourself accountable and get feedback on your work. Share your writing goals with your group or buddy, and make a commitment to check in regularly and share your progress. Having a community of fellow writers can help you stay motivated and on track.

5. Use Productivity Tools

There are many productivity tools available that can help you stay accountable and focused while writing your novel. Use tools like word-count trackers, timers, and apps designed specifically for writers to help you monitor your progress and stay on track.

6. Instead of fighting procrastination, make it work for you!

Okay, this is a less conventional approach. But there's a concept called "structured procrastination" that basically involves prioritizing your tasks in such a way that you always have a high-priority task that needs to be done, but you also have lower-priority tasks that you can work on as a way to avoid doing the high-priority task. 

It's something that you probably already do naturally! For example, let's say you have a deadline approaching for an important project at work. But instead of focusing on that project, you start knocking out the lower-priority tasks on your list, such as responding to emails or organizing your work files, in an effort to avoid working on the project.

How can you make this work in your favor for your writing? Place something else important as a higher priority on your to-do list, and your writing goal (i.e., finish writing Chapter Four) as a lower priority. That way, in an effort to procrastinate your higher priority, you will start working on your writing instead. 🙌


Whichever of the above strategies work for you, just remember to keep taking small steps forward. Continuous improvement always wins over random big steps or sudden drastic changes in the long run. Start acting and thinking like a writer. Create habits that bring you writing success. The best way to create lasting habits is through the practice of gradual, ongoing improvement. Small daily actions. These daily improvements will start compounding, and soon your new habits will help you truly move the needle towards achieving your novel writing dream.


Deep encouragement, mindset shifts, writing advice, actionable tips, and proven strategies to help you achieve your dream. You in?

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