Tip Sheets

Lunch and Learn 9/15/2022: Accountability Partners

By Jeanne Erdmann, AHCJ board member and freelance committee chair

Working with accountability partners can bring out your better self. Such a partner can act as a sounding board for ideas and help keep your pitches going out like clockwork — with encouragement and regular check-ins. The September Lunch and Learn was aimed at helping writers establish and nurture this relationship.

Probably the easiest way to find such a partner is through a writing group you may already have joined. You can send out a post asking if anyone might be interested. If you don’t belong to a writing group, consider reaching out to a colleague or approaching someone you have met at a conference.

Before the pandemic, freelancer and author Christie Aschwanden held Courage Camps near her Colorado home. During this intensive course on freelancing, Aschwanden encouraged participants to find an accountability partner to set goals and check in with one another every week to see if those goals have been met. Having that discussion via regular conversations can boost productivity beyond what we can accomplish on our own.

Such conversations can provide support we may need to pitch a dream publication or apply for a coveted fellowship.

Once you have found a writing partner, the next step is to set parameters for the relationship, for example, deciding how much contact you want. If weekly is too much, then try every other week or even monthly. What’s important is to choose the frequency that works for you. Sustaining the relationship over time is what matters.

Next, decide what you’re going to help each other with. For example, a quick phone or Zoom on Monday can set goals for the week, and you can email on Friday to say whether or not you’ve met those goals. If weekly goals sound too lofty or too pressured, you can ask your partner to help review edits or act as a sounding board for a pitch you’ve yet to write.

Pick someone you can trust: You’ll be talking about goals and story ideas and reading one another’s pitches.

AHCJ has a strong, generous, freelance community. There’s always someone willing to provide advice and support.