How to finish your book by being accountable

It’s the last week of July, and my second book (REVIVED, the first instalment in the queer vampire romance series Foreverers) has just been sent off for professional editing.

I wrote the first draft of REVIVED during CampNanoWriMo (a digital writer’s retreat—basically, writers from all over the world get together online and cheer each other on to finish things) in July last year, but I’d let it sit since. In part, this was because I had quite the busy year (got my PhD, finished my second to last semester of medical school, and tried to juggle the day job on top). But also, in all honesty, I hadn’t committed. Now, a year later, I decided it was time to finish that book.

I have so earned this badge—the end result of my July 2017 CampNaNo project will be released in September!

It would sound so good if I said I am one of those people who can set a goal for themselves and then stick to it without fault. It would also be a lie.

The thing is, it’s not enough for me to challenge myself—I need to let other people know that I’ve done it. I need the accountability, or I might as well have whispered that goal into the night, where it would be unheard except for maybe by the same kind of supernatural beings I’m writing about. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to meet a good vampire writing coach.

So, in order to make sure I finish things, I find witnesses. It used to be that I’d tell friends and family members about my latest writing scheme—but near and dear ones have this otherwise charming quality of approving of you even when you don’t achieve your goals. Wanting something a little scarier (and thus motivational!), this time I told:

1. My new CampNano cabin, which consisted of a group of (as it turned out, very friendly) writers I hadn’t met before, but who had set similar goals. I needed unbiased judgment and competition—and it worked!

2. My editor, which was very effective because it gave me a) a deadline (which we agreed upon beforehand, and I then had to rush to meet) and b) the knowledge that someone’s counting on me to meet it so they can get paid in time.

3. My brother’s girlfriend, accidentally. She was staying with us for a time during July, and I happened to bring up the project I was editing–unexpectedly triggering her to ask about my progress every. single. day. I quickly ran out of new ways to say the same thing (namely: I was mostly on track, but it was slow and excruciating and I wasn’t sure if I hated or loved the thing), but then I was saving most of my eloquence for my actual project.

Admittedly, now that I’ve just finished a project, my writing life feels kind of empty. But I don’t think I’ll worry too much—I’ve already outlined a short story that will act as a follow-up to REVIVED, which will be out in September 2017. If Victorian vampires and m/m romance are your thing, stay tuned—I’ll be sure to keep my readers updated as the release date draws near.

How about you? Do you have any tried and true methods of finishing your writing goals—or other creative projects, for that matter?