Note: This is a guest post from Sandy Kreps, who helps people cut through the chaos of modern life and find a simpler path on her blog, Modern Simplicity.
How long does it take to write a book? Depends on who you ask. By August 2015, I had been working on my book for two years, and I was maybe only 30 percent through the first draft.
Instead of working on the book regularly, I wrote a little here and there, with the manuscript collecting digital dust for months at a time.
I’d already written several simple living and home organization books for Kindle, but in my mind, I’d built up this book as my masterpiece, the book I’d finally publish in print and be a “real author.” I’d basically psyched myself out of even writing it.
Then I went to Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. As a long-time “pioneer” Tribe Writer, I was excited to finally meet so many of the online friends I’d made. It was my first writer’s conference, and I hoped it would be a weekend full of inspiration, learning, and relationship building.
I didn’t realize it would be life-changing.
First, get inspired
At the conference, the speakers were amazing. My head spun with new ideas, as I filled a notebook with the knowledge, experience, and inspiration the speakers imparted.
- Allison Fallon urged us to our authentic voice.
- Tim Grahl told us to start small by setting manageable goals.
- Joshua Becker, whom I’d been dying to meet as a devoted follower of his blog, encouraged us to dig deep and see how we can best help people.
- Christine Niles encouraged us to map out our 90-day goals and encouraged us with the words I needed to hear: Do it afraid.
Throughout the conference, three key messages kept popping up:
- Don’t be afraid to use your authentic voice.
- Help others relentlessly, without expectation of reward.
- Don’t let fear hold you back. Do it anyway.
Following the final presentation, we sat in small groups to work on our 90-day goals.
With the lessons of the conference rushing through my head — do it afraid, help others relentlessly, dig deep, be authentic, set manageable goals — I finally spoke up, vowing that I would finish my book, Mommy Simplicity, in just 90 days.
Brenda McGraw, a fellow Tribe Writer and writing coach, immediately offered to hold me accountable to that goal. Now, there was no getting out of it. I was committed to finishing, and Brenda was going to hold me to it.
Then, the real work begins
At the airport, as I waited to return to Dallas, I outlined what needed to be done to get my book completed in just 90 days. And I panicked.
What was I thinking?! It couldn’t be done! Not by me, anyway!
Texting with my new friends from Tribe Conference, they encouraged me that it was, in fact, doable to get the book done and they were rooting for me. That’s one of the things I love most about writers. We’ve got each others’ backs and love to encourage each other. How many other callings are filled with so many encouraging companions?
The next 90 days were a blur of outlining, writing, and rewriting. I checked in with Brenda weekly to update her on my status and almost daily received messages of encouragement from friends I had made at Tribe Conference.
I was awed as a scrappy bundle of words developed into an actual manuscript and even more amazed that the words now rang true with my voice, a voice I’d been struggling to find for years.
On day 89, I sent my completed manuscript to an editor Brenda had helped me find. I had done it. I finished the book I’d been struggling with for years in just 90 days, thanks to the inspiration from the Tribe Conference and the friends who held me accountable to achieving my goals.
One of the greatest days of my life was opening the brown package that arrived containing the finished product of my labors: a beautiful book with my name on the cover.
Four things I learned
So I want to share what I learned from this experience. When you’ve got a big goal in your heart, you need to connect with others for accountability and encouragement. Here are four things I learned about using accountability to reach my big goal:
1. Make your goal specific.
I knew I wanted to finish my book but was a little unclear what that would look like. My accountability group encouraged me to plot out a total word goal as well as weekly word goals to measure my progress.
2. Choose a specific length of time to accomplish your goal.
While this timeline doesn’t need to be set in stone, you need to feel a little pressure to perform. I think most goals can be accomplished in 30 to 90 days. If not, then consider breaking your goals down into smaller chunks.
3. Find someone who supports you.
Whether you have one accountability partner or a whole group, using a trusted support system to encourage you and give you a little push when needed is absolutely necessary to success.
I don’t think I would have finished my book if it hadn’t been for the guidance and motivation I received from Brenda and my Tribe Conference friends.
4. Make accountability easy.
It needs to be as simple as possible to get encouragement when you need it. I communicated with my support system via text and Facebook but also had weekly phone conversations with Brenda until I completed my book.
Do you need encouragement to finish?
When creative people come together, it’s hard to even describe the energy that fills the room — a bubbling up of ideas, inspiration, and camaraderie.
If you’re interested in meeting like-minded writers, developing your craft, and learn how to build an audience for your writing, then I encourage you to join me, and a host of others, at the Tribe Conference this year.
Attending a conference is arguably one of the best ways you can meet like-minded people, get inspired, and create work you never thought possible. This is what I learned first-hand.
How has accountability helped you with completing an unfinished project? Share in the comments.