Oh man! What can I say about accountability? Well, I guess I can say this, IT WORKS! For years (and YEARS) I would lock myself in my bedroom for hours and hours and write in secret, not wanting to get people pumped and then fail and let them all down. Well, needless to say, I never finished a manuscript during those days and it fed my fear of people knowing what I was doing. Finally, one day, I told my family and all 200+ of my Facebook friends, that I was going to write a book. Scared the ever living crap out of me. The first time someone “liked” that status, I almost cried. Then the comments and “likes” started pouring in and suddenly I had all of these people, whom I care deeply for, supporting me and cheering me on. Suddenly, it wasn’t about me being afraid of letting them down. Instead, it was about making damn sure that it didn’t happen. I began posting my daily word counts on Facebook (sometimes it was more like an hourly word count) and people couldn’t get me to stop talking about the crazy stuff my characters were doing without my permission.
Not only did I finally finish an entire first draft of a novel, but I did it in 30 days. Yup! A whole first draft in a measly 30 days (thanks in large part to NaNoWriMo). It was the most intense experience I have ever had in my life. The next year, I did the very same thing. Massive amounts of Facebook posts, crazy amounts of avoiding the real world and LOTS of coffee later, I suddenly had the first draft of the second book in my series. Now, I don’t even have to post about it on Facebook and people ask me when they will be published and when they will get to read my work. That interest and support from my friends forced me to take the next terrifying step in this adventure: Editing. Suddenly I realized that I had only kept half of my promise to myself to not let them down. I wrote the first draft and then, knowing full well that the first draft was VERY rough, I dug in my heels, closed my eyes, covered my ears and screamed at the top of my lungs (metaphorically speaking, of course) as soon as the thought of editing entered my mind. However, I had a promise to keep.
Off to Office Depot I went. Palms sweating, heart racing and jump drive in hand, I walked up to the print counter, paid my $13 and my book became a reality. As the printer monkey handed over the giant stack of paper, I had to fight the urge not to vomit. I was terrified of the creature that I had brought to life. I was ecstatic over the fact that I had officially created something. I was proud of myself for having the courage to bring my baby into the light and one step closer to being available for public scrutiny. I sped home, dug up a three ring binder, a hole punch and a red pen and got to work.
For most of the first chapter, I cringed at some of the stuff I had written, but by the end of it, I had finally convinced myself that it really wasn’t bad considering it was not only my first novel, but that it had been written in 30 days. By the end of the third chapter, my writing had improved IMMENSELY and more than once, my characters made me actually laugh out loud (not always at the most opportune times!). By the end of the first round of edits, I was biting at the bit to get a second draft printed off so I could do it again, all the while, keeping Facebook posted on how the process was coming along and letting the comments and “likes” drive me to continue. And continue I did. I am now preparing to begin the process of searching for a prospective lit agent and mailing off inquiries. All because of one little Facebook post.
As you can see, accountability did WONDERS for me. It’s what finally broke the bonds of the fear that were holding me back and let me move forward with my dream. Not only am I on the verge of taking a very big step forward in that dream, but I’m doing it without fear. The reason I’m not afraid is because I know that no matter how bumpy the road is, I have to see it through to the end. Not for me, though. I’ve got to do it for my friends, family and fans. My personal accomplishment is just an added bonus.
I leave you with this: If you’re still in the metaphorical closet with your writing, reach up, grab the door knob and kick that door off of its hinges. Your passion should NOT be kept a secret! Share it with those you love! Let THEM carry you to that finish line, whether it be having an entire first draft of a manuscript written just so you can say you did it, or having a novel published and sitting on the shelves of book stores around the country or world. Your friends and family will help you, even if they don’t know that that’s what they are doing. Even the naysayers (if you’re like me) will just make you want to prove them wrong!