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Get Your Butt Kicked

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A little over three years ago, I started getting my butt kicked. Sometimes it happened weekly. Sometimes once a month. Sometimes there were months in between my butt kickings, but I could always count on it happening on a regular basis.

Like most people, life is kicking my butt these days, especially this last year. Juggling work and family and the stress of wearing-masks-social-distancing-missing-out-on-things-and-isolation is a horrendous weight to bear. However, the butt-kicking I'm talking about is something I ask for.

Yeah, you heard that right. I get my wide, flat, cellulite-riddled rumpus bruised regularly... and I appreciate it.

Almost four years ago, J. L. Glenn commented on a post. She suggested I join a writing accountability group. I'd never heard of the concept, but Glenn explained it a bit, and I did some research. Angela Mackintosh at WOW made some suggestions how it could logistically work and offered WOW's support. The word went out, and somehow, the perfect group of writers came together.

We created a framework and protocols. Using Dropbox (it's so easy to use, even me with terrible tech skills can use it, and it's free), each of us created a page for ourselves. We began the first year with goals--a small number of goals that we wanted to accomplish in the next twelve months. The plan was to post our progress each week, either on Sunday or Monday. The rest of the group would encourage, suggest a publication or agent, offer to read a draft, and so on.

I'm 99% sure that if I had not joined this group and had them pushing and prodding and me these past three years, I would not be on the brink of debuting my book. You see, we call ourselves the Butt-Kickers. When a group member gets despondent and is about to give up, we give them a gentle kick in the behind... so they have the courage to continue forward. When I've said, "I can't," these fierce writers insist, "You can."

                                                                      image by Pixabay

There's something powerful about announcing your goals to people... and there's something embarrassing about not doing what you need in order to achieve those goals, week after week. At some point, you get off your sorry rear end and do something.

My suggestions if you're considering a writing accountability group:
  • Invite writers you admire... and take a risk on writers you're completely unfamiliar with. Chances are, if they're not serious about their craft, they'll bail out (this happened with one or two writers our first year). I can almost promise that the writers you know have talents and experience you're unaware of, and they'll blow you away. The writers who are "new" to you and stick with the group will become wonderful writing colleagues.

  • Be kind to the members in your group. Be kind to yourself. Everybody has stuff they have to deal with. When I got my lazy butt kicked, it was done out of love. And even when I needed a jolt from a taser, the kicks were gentle.

  • Keep your goals attainable, and prioritize them to just a few. You can always set more mid-year, if you accomplish them all.
How about you? If you were going to set a few year-long goals, what would they be? Semi-accountable writers want to know...

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a freelance writer and a teacher consultant for the Gateway Writing Project, a part of the National Writing Project. If you'd like to read more of her writing, check out her blog.

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