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How to be an effective writing accountability partner

Has a colleague asked you to be their writing accountability partner? Accountability partners provide guidance, support, and motivation for a writer to forge ahead and stay on course with their writing. They also have a general interest in the writing success of the other person and can offer their own, different experiences, perspectives and ideas. All these things combined will help a writer overcome their challenges and barriers to writing success so they can be more productive, motivated, and able to reach their writing goals. To be an effective writing accountability partner, you need to be able to do these four things:

Give the right amount of cheer.

Being a positive cheerleader is important and can offer great encouragement for the person you are holding accountable. However, your job is not to be a constant cheerleader. You need to be able to say, “This wasn’t your best week for productivity. I know you can do it. Just keep writing!”

Be able to play the roles of both challenger and supporter.

Your role is to offer support, yes, but you also need to be a challenger. You need to be able to push your colleague in the “write” direction and out of their comfort zone. There may be times when you need to help your colleague see further ahead and challenge them to strive for more (like submitting to a more prestigious journal).

Offer constructive, and honest, feedback.

Your job as an accountability partner is to make sure the person you are holding accountable is staying on task and meeting their goals. You have to be honest with them and let them know how they are doing along the way. They may also ask you to read through a rough draft of what they wrote. Read it thoroughly, make notes as you go, be positive, and give constructive, actionable feedback.

Be a neutral party.

Great accountability partners are not spouses, family, or close friends. You will make a better accountability partner if you are someone’s colleague or another independent person that can give neutral feedback that drives someone that may otherwise back off if it were someone closer to them.