Get Your Butt Kicked

Saturday, March 13, 2021
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. (Every year we make new goals.) 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.


Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sioux, we all need butt-kickers in our life and you and your accountability group sounds like the best kind to have to encourage each other and help each writer reach their goals. As for me I have a plethora of goals I want to reach and although difficult at times I'm learning to prioritize my main ones.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Ha! Honestly, Sioux, I feel like life kicks my butt around pretty regularly; I'm not sure I need any more of THAT. :-)

However, I know accountability groups work and there is a part of me that misses my old writing group. They probably have all kinds of amazing goals whereas my goal right now is to get the Kilz off my hands. UGH.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

As a member of Sioux's group, I have to say that it is amazing what we nudge and encourage each other to do. More often than not, the "kicking" is just a question. "Have you made any progress on X?" "How is Y coming along?" But we also draw on each other's expertise. Pool knowledge and you'll be amazed at what people know.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--With age, I've found, comes wisdom. The wisdom about what's important and what's not. The wisdom that allows us to say "no" to unimportant things that clog up our life. Wisdom to choose joy.

I'm looking forward to you sharing what goals you achieve, goal by goal.

Cathy--Your mention of Kilz made me think of a part of our house that needs a dose of Kilz. Thanks. ;)

If I didn't have a writing group, I'd get really lazy when it comes to writing. Can you connect with them via Zoom? Or are you too busy these days to be a part of the group?

Sue--It doesn't take much to nudge us along. It truly is an amazing group... and to think of what we accomplish!

Linda O'Connell said...

When I taught, my class motto was, Never say, I CAN'T. Say, I CAN TRY! That has been my motto in life as I am pretty much self-taught I certainly appreciate my writing group, Wild Women Wielding Pens who encourage and support one another.

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--I appreciate all the foot nudges and kicks from this group and am so in awe of the diversity of talent the writers share. In the back of my mind I fear everyone thinks I'm scatterbrained and can't pick one project to focus on, and to be clear to everyone else I had a few goals on last year's list that didn't even get touched. For example, I wrote out my goals for 2021 and now a new novel idea is trying to creep in there! But I remember you telling us about your upcoming novel when we first started and now it's about to be published, so what a fun journey to share! I highly recommend joining such a group whether you want a gentle nudge or a swifter kick in the pants.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

You're scatterbrained? Then what am I? I think we all have several goals that never see any progress.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--We ARE a wonderful group. My life--and my writing life--is richer because of meeting you.

Renee--You, scatterbrained? The diversity of your projects, your podcasts--I am in awe of what you do. (And I read your comment quickly, and first thought you wrote, "...a Swiffer kick in the pants," and I thought, 'Well, that could take the place of a colonoscopy.') Be gentle with yourself. A goal that's untouched one year might resurface later on, and eventually it might get accomplished.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--I completely agree with you. Renee is so, so wrong. ;)

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