Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ganging Up on You vs the Buddy System

by Maggie Toussaint

Recently, at a wellness checkup my new doctor mentioned a screening test that I should take. I uttered my pat phrases, excuses really, on why I didn't want to do that particular test.

To step to the sidebar for a moment, this is a test that is critical in my husband's family, but there has never been any trouble of this nature in my side of the family. My husband has faithfully had these screening tests for years. But not me. And I'd already had the guilt trip last year when I refused the test and he looked at me with crestfallen eyes, telling me that my not doing this could jeopardize my health.

Back to the wellness checkup this year. My doctor told me a story of someone who put the test off too long and paid for the delay adversely. She wrote out a referral and said the first appointment was a consult anyway.

I knew I wouldn't make the appointment. But then the doctor asked again on a follow-up visit. My husband asked again. And the insurance company called to ask why I hadn't arranged for the test. Sheesh. I called and made the appointment for the consult.

The reason for telling you this long story is that it would be lovely if we did this for each other as writers. If some of us got together and said, hey, your goal was to write 20K a month. Where are you with your goal? Why haven't you gotten it done?

A writer friend of mine and I decided to try this a couple of years back. We started out as critique partners, but we ended up close friends who wanted to encourage each other. So each week, we report on our progress. Each week we set new goals for the coming week. Let me tell you, having that accountability helps me hold my feet to the fire.

I encourage you to find a writing buddy and to team up as each other's writing coach. Not that you will judge each other's style, but rather that you encourage productivity. We've managed to write through marriages, vacations, family troubles, illness, and more.

The nice thing about this idea is that each person sets their own pace. I believe in keeping the group small. Once you add in more people, it seems like bragging to tell what you've accomplished, and the feeling of accountability lessens. With the buddy system, you don't want to let your buddy down. That means a lot, not letting your buddy down.

Heck. Why limit it to writing? Find a buddy for any area of life where you need encouragement. A healthier you will ultimately yield more quality time for writing.

Maggie Toussaint
a believer in the buddy system, just not for my medical professionals


Unknown said...

MAGGIE--very interesting that you could connect "that test" with writing. That takes some real writing talent!
I've experienced such as you describe about holding your writing buddy's feet to the fire. Two of us have done that--off and on, I admit--but when we put our minds to it, it really does work. Recently, two of us had to "gang up on" a third, until she buckled down and got her novel going in the right direction. Now, she can't stop. Good post--Celia

Susanne said...

Maggie -

Hope you pass the dreaded test with flying colors!

Keena Kincaid said...

I hope the test went well--and I agree that it's important that writers do what it takes to help their writing buddies. Great post.

LK Hunsaker said...

Ah Maggie, I do the same with those "recommended" tests. Sometimes they are pushed too far, I think.

However, having a nicely pushing writing buddy or two is a beautiful thing.


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