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Chris, Gena and Rene Gutteridge discuss why accountability is so important for writers. We each share what accountability looks like in our careers, how we found it, and the difference it’s made.
Episode 21 Transcription:
[00:00:13].870] - Chris Hello welcome to the Writing Momentum Podcast. I'm Christopher Maselli, and I'm here with my wife, Gena Maselli. And I'm here with Rene Gutteridge. How are you guys doing today? [00:00:23].330] - Gena We're good. I'm answering for Rene now. [00:00:28].730] - Rene Yes, you've answered correctly. I'm good. [00:00:32].630] - Chris We're all good. And, you know, part of the reason I think we're all good is because we are all being accountable to each other on this podcast, making sure that we're all sharing a little bit. Is that a weird transition? I feel like that's a weird transition, but I'm going to stick with it. I'm going with it. [00:00:49].010] - Rene I think it's fine. You just jumped right in. I mean, let's go. [00:00:52].750] - Chris I jumped right in because today's topic is accountability. Okay, this is a big deal. And it's kind of been big on my mind lately because I think that there's been nothing in my life that has made such a difference in various areas of my life this past year like accountability helping me succeed. I'm going to share a little bit about that in a bit. But Rene, what do we mean by accountability? [00:01:21].110] - Rene Well, I think it just means that instead of trying to solo this whole thing, whether it's writing or life or whatever you're tackling, you bring in one person or several people or a group or community. I guess it can be as large as you want to help you along with the journey. We can all be quite prideful creatures thinking we can do everything on our own. And it turns out that we need each other. And that, to me, is accountability. [00:02:00].140] - Chris Yeah. If we're passionate about our work, just do it. Like, why can't we just sit down and get it all done? [00:02:08].010] - Gena I think a lot of times we get in our own heads with it. I think we get caught up with outside influences, with work and other family commitments and all these other commitments. But I think also we can get caught up in our own heads of feeling like whether it's imposter syndrome or just different things, just not just the way we approach our projects can sometimes we can be our own biggest obstacle, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. I think there are times where we can second guess ourselves and we're an outside point of view, an outside person just to whether it's someone who holds us to a deadline that we have to meet. So we have to push through writer's block or whatever. Or it can be just an outside person kind of someone to bounce ideas off of, to give us a different perspective, can help us push through as well. [00:03:17].010] - Chris Yeah [00:03:18].570] - Chris I think we all have the best of intentions, don't we? Like, we feel like we can do most things on our own. We're Americans, we're individualistic and we're independent and we feel like we can do all these things on our own. And yet for me, over the past couple of years I have learned how helpful it has been to have friends and partners that will help guide me along the way in some of the different things that I'm doing and help just really help keep me accountable, make sure I get the stuff done right. Well, more than a couple, I actually belong to multiple accountability groups. Now. I have a business mastermind that I'm a part of and we meet on a weekly basis and it's me and three other people and we all help each other with our entrepreneurial ventures, right? Because what I found is that I got so busy being a freelance writer that I wasn't getting my personal writing stuff done. I wasn't building my own business, I wasn't doing some of the stuff I wanted to do. So I got together with some other entrepreneurs. They're all in different kinds of businesses and we have spurred each other on to get this stuff done. [00:04:35].080] - Chris This podcast is a result of us spring each other on for that, I belong to another mastermind. Gena and I and Rene all do that is a writing group that we get together and encourage each other as authors and just kind of say, hey, what author strategies you are using right now and are you getting your writing done that kind of thing. Then back in the beginning of December, I joined Weight Watchers because we took some family pictures that were beautiful and I realized, oh, I don't look like I used to look. I was like I need to join Weight Watchers. And so I did. And you know what? I've lost thirty five pounds since then and I just went in and had blood work and a whole bunch of my internal stuff is so much better. I'm in such a better place than I was. But that again came because I have these weekly accountability sessions with Weight Watchers has kept me eating and doing the right things. And so I'm starting to get to the point where it's like what do I want to do in life? I don't want to do it alone anymore. [00:05:37].490] - Chris I've got to find a tribe, a group that I can join because it makes all the difference in the world. So what kind of accountability strategies can we join? Like I just mentioned mastermind and that kind of thing. What else is there? [00:05:54].820] - Gena Well, I think you definitely said masterminds and I do want to go back to something. When Chris is talking about Weight Watchers and the change that he has seen because of that group and he is super faithful. We've both done it and I've had success as well. But Chris's success, he just went to his doctor's visit and the doctor said that when she looked at his numbers from before going on Weight Watchers, she felt like he was headed for a health crisis. [00:06:23].870] - Chris She called me a ticking time bomb. [00:06:25].910] - Gena A ticking time bomb. So when he says his numbers have changed, that's not just like, oh, you lost the number on the scale has gone down. We're talking about an overall health improvement. [00:06:39].130] - Chris Yeah. I was accountable before, but I was accountable to McDonald's instead of Weight Watchers, and that was my problem. [00:06:45].440] - Gena Yeah. [00:06:46].410] - Gena So I just want to put that out there, not just because I'm giving props to him, but because accountability, I think has probably added years to your life just doing that. [00:06:56].250] - Chris Yeah. Added years to all the years that have been taken off by the stress of writing freelance work. [00:07:07].960] - Gena Yes. [00:07:10].530] - Gena Okay, so we've talked about masterminds. Did we do a podcast on masterminds and what they are? I think we've talked about them before, but it's really where you get together with some like minded people who are working towards a similar goal. And when I say similar goal, like Chris said, he's in a mastermind with entrepreneurs. They are not in the same field. They don't work in the same field, but they are all working towards building their businesses. So they're talking about whether it's strategies for hiring VAs, strategies for marketing, strategies for refining products, for reevaluating their goals and where they're going. So that's what that group is. [00:07:56].340] - Chris Yeah. That was episode twelve. We talked about that. [00:07:59].040] - Gena Okay. So masterminds are one way of finding accountability and support. Another would be through coaching. I personally got to a place where I was just in my own head too much with my writing, with my fiction writing that I really wanted to do and a lot of other kinds of writing. But when it came to fiction, I just realized it was an animal that I was not going to beat on my own. And so I reached out for help and Rene is helping me with that. So coaching is another one. And then also we are excited. This is one of the things that we have found is such a need in the writing community that we are launching Writing Moments. And we'll talk about Chris is going to talk about that in a little bit, but these are going to be times where we just get together and we use the Pomodoro technique of writing for 45 minutes with some mini teaching on writing to help spur people on. So he'll talk some more about that a little bit later on. But those are three ways. Rene, do you have any other ways that you have found that have worked for accountability? [00:09:11].850] - Rene Yeah. For me, accountability to meeting deadlines. Most of the time I'm under contract. And once you put that check in the bank, you're very motivated to get your project done. But my accountability through the years has been more toward mental and emotional accountability. Writing is like many occupations. It has some rough places that you have to endure. A lot of that is rejection. A lot of it is criticism. You're kind of bleeding on the page. And then you hear, well, it's not good enough or it's not right or we don't like it or what, whatever. So I've had through the years that still to this day to have emotionally, mental accountability with buddies, as I say. And they are fellow writers. And so they do know the journey. They certainly know the trajectory you can put yourself on if you become mentally or emotionally unstable at any point, which is easy to do if you have any kind of heart and soul. I think most writers do have a side of them. I do, even though on the Enneagram I'm a five, which is the logical, my wing is a four, which is the poet and the feeler. [00:10:41].750] - Rene So I'm just a mental and emotional mystery. But I really have to have somebody who I can call when I've had a bad day or I've had some sort of rejection or criticism that's hit me particularly hard. I've got to have somebody to call and say, okay, walk me back from the cliff. Right. And I've got a great friend named Susanna who we've been writing friends for 20 years, and she is that for me, and I am for her. And it's a very important part of my writing life. [00:11:19].920] - Chris That's really good. I've had people say to me before all that sounds great, but I don't know any other writers. I don't know anyone who's going through the same kind of thing. And that's where I really encourage you to check out writer's conferences. We talked a lot about writer's conferences in episode 17 and go back and listen to that and you'll find out where you can find them and what writer's conference is basically where a bunch of people who are interested in writing, newbies and experienced people, who would all get together and just learn about writing together. But what's great is that there's all this networking that happens, right. And you don't have to call it networking. It's really just eating together, talking together, and getting to know one another. And you will definitely meet someone at a writer's conference that you can be accountable to. [00:12:07].750] - Rene Yeah, I agree. I have to say that writer's conferences for me. I know you've covered this, but it probably was the single most important decision I made for my writing career. [00:12:23].690] - Chris 100%. [00:12:24].260] - Rene I launched my writing career. Excuse me. I found my agent there, and I found all my writing friends there. So including you two, if I'm not mistaken. [00:12:37].400] - Chris Yeah, I think you're right. I think we met at a writer's conference, like years ago. Right. I don't know when. Years ago. [00:12:45].170] - Gena Yeah. [00:12:45].960] - Chris Isn't that funny? So, yeah, it goes to show it is. [00:12:49].530] - Gena It's almost 20 years. It's probably about 17 or 18 years ago that you guys, that can't be true. That long I think we had children then, but our kids were really small. So maybe I'm stretching it by a few years, but not many. And then you met Rene and then I met Rene later. So I definitely think writing conferences and the nice thing about them is that they are only once a year, so that can be that special time. And I say once a year you can go to multiple ones throughout the year, but each conference happens once a year. So when you make that commitment to go, you go there and you really are investing in your writing. Then by going to these classes and learning from experienced writers and just sitting down and eating with and meeting other people, it's very organic. It's not a scary thing at all to go and just sit and do that. And the thing about writing conferences, I know that's not what this session is about, this podcast, but it really is a time where you will find your tribe. And so that's the encouraging thing is you kind of meet with these people and you're all speaking the same language and you're coming at things from the same place. [00:14:18].610] - Gena And it really is there's something so energizing about that. [00:14:23].490] - Rene I agree. [00:14:25].050] - Gena Yeah. [00:14:29].890] - Rene It is hard to admit that we all need accountability, right? I mean, personally, even outside of writing, right? I mean, it's hard to admit we all like to be accountable to ourselves and we think that we will be great accountability partners, right? We're like, I'm great. I'm a perfect accountability partner. Who wouldn't want me? I might as well pick me. But at the end of the day, because writing is so solitary and believe me when I tell you as you move into this being something, a dream, into a professional reality, and it will be a professional reality for you, if you continue on this journey of learning and listening to podcasts and doing the things that are suggested, it will become a professional reality. It's a solitary type of occupation. You have to find time alone to do it, period. That's the way it works. So because it is so solitary, the accountability of it becomes even more important because really this is a subjective type of profession that can be brutal. We do have to do a podcast sometime on rejection because it is. [00:16:03].290] - Chris Make a note. That's a good one. [00:16:03].980] - Rene It goes hand in hand with writing and talk about what I write. For Skit Guys, about 80% of what I write is not used. Think about that. A 20% success rate I have on a daily basis. [00:16:28].090] - Gena That's just the nature of the business, right? That is the nature of the business. [00:16:32].880] - Chris But the reality is that 20% is the cream of the crop though, right? That's a really good 20%. [00:16:39].280] - Rene It's a good 20% that has gone through a lot of scrutiny. But that other 80% I loved. Those are things that I wrote that I thought well, these are terrific. Who wouldn't love these, right? So it's just the accountability that you need with other people to say, hey, keep going, keep your head up, you're good, you're getting better. Listen to the criticism. Let's look at the criticism together. Let me look at it with you and maybe interpret it. Because a lot of times, especially early in my career, I'd get criticism. And you know what I would hear? It would be like, hey, you need to do A, B, and C and act two. And I would hear you're awful, you're awful, you're awful. That's how I was interpreting what was being said. So you need accountability, somebody to come alongside you and say, help me interpret this and that it doesn't derail me emotionally. Some people are better at it than I am. I have a deep heart, a deep soul. So I'm a feeler, I feel everything. So I do need that emotional accountability. [00:17:51].550] - Chris I think one of the things that we've been excited about, we've been talking about it for a couple of podcasts and on our email is the fact that a lot of us, we know we need to have time alone and we have hard time getting that on our calendar. And so if you want to have some time alone to write with others, as funny as that sounds, it is time alone with others, though. We are starting what is called Writing Moments this next month. And it's going to be a time when you can put it on your calendar and then log on to the system and go ahead and get with me and Gena and Rene and other writers. And we're going to have a mini teaching and then we're just going to spend about 45 minutes writing together and it's going to be really good because it's a way that we can keep accountable along with our dog. It's a way that we can keep accountable to one another on our schedule and keep accountable to just get that writing done. It's going to be so cool. So we're looking forward to that. If you want to be a part of that, go writingmomentum.com and join our email list if you're not on it already so that you'll be able to hear about that. [00:19:06].190] - Rene Yeah, I agree, Chris. I've done this in a mini format with friends for years. We'd get on Zoom, get our coffee, catch up for about 5 minutes, and then stay on Zoom and write. [00:19:19].070] - Chris It is funny. There's something that's strangely, I want to use the word accountable keeps you accountable just by having other people in a little window on your screen knowing that they're there. You don't feel like you can go shop on Amazon or go do the dishes or something else that gets you distracted because you're like, man, I got to sit here, I got to keep butt in chair and just keep working, which is something about it that just works well. [00:19:47].640] - Rene It's a tangible energy of creative people all creating at the same time. [00:19:52].360] - Chris Exactly. [00:19:52].760] - Rene You can feel it. [00:19:53].880] - Chris Yeah. So if you're interested in joining the Writing Moments, if you say, you know what? I need to be accountable to someone, then go ahead and go writingmomentum.com. Join that email list. We'll keep you up to date. We'll let you know when we're going to do it. We're going to try and have them at various times throughout the month, morning, afternoon, and evening, because we've got people literally all over the world who have said that they might be interested in being a part of this. It can be a tough accounting for those of you who are in Australia. But we've heard you. We know you want to be a part of it, so we're going to try and make it happen. So thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast. Gena, you want to take us through a quick recap? [00:20:35].990] - Gena Yeah. [00:20:36].380] - Gena So when we're talking about accountability, that's what we've been talking about today. We're talking about getting that outside perspective, whether that's about meeting your deadlines or just getting that emotional support that you need. We're also talking about the different types of accountability that you can have, whether that's masterminds, buddy systems, or coaching or even the Writing Moments that we are launching here. And the results that we've seen from accountability, all of us, whether that has been practically of just making progress on the projects that mean the most to us or helping us filter through some of the rejection and some of the hard responses and reactions that we've received. Just giving us that perspective, it's been pretty remarkable for us. And we are hearing those that we're not alone. This is something that a lot of people are needing. So we are launching Writing Moments. We are starting those in June 2022. And those are going to be 1 hour writing sessions. We're going to start with ten to 15 minutes of writing, like a mini teaching, and then we're going to go straight into 45 to 50 minutes of just straight writing together. And we are excited to see how these are going to just what's going to come out of this. [00:22:07].380] - Gena We think this is going to help a lot of people move the needle on their own projects and help them get into the practice of writing more regularly and help them even find those buddies, find those friends that they can write with, writing with us. So we're excited to see where that goes. [00:22:27].950] - Chris Hey, thank you all so much for listening to the Writing Momentum podcast. This has been really a fun journey that we've been having meeting with you every week. You guys make all the difference. You are awesome sauce. And so if you would go ahead, rate, review, subscribe, and share with this podcast with others. Let them know what is giving your Writing Momentum and until next week, we'll hope that we all have writing momentum.