Accountability is a tough thing for those of us who work alone most days. I have to invent ways to make sure I’m not slipping back into Slackerville which is horrifyingly easy to do. There’s always tomorrow, there’s always a movie on in the afternoon, there’s always a coffee date with my kid who goes to the best Minneapolis coffeehouses ever. But he – my kid I mean – holds me accountable sometimes. He’s an artist and he knows how it goes. There are a lot of days when I look at him and think he’s way more successful than I am because he’s less of a slacker than I am. How’s that for role-reversal?
Anyway, this week has been an exercise in accountability. It started with lunch with a friend who is in the process of 90 AA meetings in 90 days. She told me to hold her accountable quite a long time ago in our friendship, and so I make it a point to get the update on how her AA program is going when I see her. These can be tough conversations. This week, she turned the tables on me because she knew I wasn’t doing much of my own writing. I manage to do a lot of reading, editing, commenting, parenting, traveling, and thrashing around in my personal life, but the writing has really taken a hit lately. I can blame that on a lot of things – and I do. There’s always someone that needs something from me, so when do I have time to work on my own projects?
Uh huh. Great way to make myself way too important without ever getting to the point.
Part of my difficulty lately is that I don’t want to be alone all the time. But I can’t just allow myself to flit around. Time to revisit my daily structure. Time for the poem-a-day technique – brainstorm version. In the morning. No excuses. I’ll write a poem a day until I hit 100 pieces.100 poems in 100 days. All those drafts mean I’ll be sifting through my own work all winter. If I can’t come up with something from that, then I have to go get a job in some other field. Seriously.
So, the sort of Catch-22 for writers is this: We need to hold our writing in enough esteem to actually make time to do it, to get it out there, to say something that matters. But when we think everything else is important because we’re the one doing that, too, then we both inflate our own worth when we’re not writing and neglect the thing that ought to be number one on our priority lists. We’ll be a lot more valuable to the world if we get it right that we’re writers. We can trade off with other people for most of the other stuff that we show up for. And we can build a structure that has a room for whatever non-writing things we have to do ourselves, especially the ones that allow us to be with other people who will hold us accountable.
DO A KIND THING
HeARTS for Autism is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that promotes the use of art for kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) while supporting ASD families and raising public awareness of ASD. Their website has a fun art gallery and they accept donations. Check them out here. And, if you know someone who is dealing with ASD, send them the link. There’s no such thing as too much support.