The Dark Side of Accountability

As of today I have managed to post more times in the past two weeks then I did in the whole of last year. Yay! I am quite proud of keeping up my workday blogging schedule.

One of the reasons I have done so, possibly the only reason, is because I said I would, here on this blog, in my very first post of the year. Because my resolution is a matter of public record, and it’s easy to see whether I have kept it, I feel some pressure to get the posts done. I will be embarrassed by my failure to do so.

Being in the spotlight has nudged me towards writing the blog. Not only have I made a public commitment, I set up a Seinfeld chain to encourage it. As the chain lengthened I felt the usual pressure not to break it.

The extra motivation helps me get things done but that is not an unalloyed good. There is a dark side. Certainly, because I feel the pressure of public accountability, I make the effort to get the posts up. That same pressure means that I sometimes ignore other things. I don’t make my living blogging. I make my living writing books. Yet there have been days in the past couple of weeks when I have put the writing of fiction on hold just so I could finish my daily blog posts.

It did not start this way. My original idea was that I would do the blog posts after I had completed the day’s writing, and I would devote at most one 25 minute pomodoro to them. Things have not quite turned out that way. There have been days when I have devoted much more time to the posts. They have also begun to take up headspace. I find myself spending as much time thinking about the posts as my fiction.

It’s a classic case of the urgent squeezing out the important and it’s making me have doubts about the undertaking. The discipline might be better applied to something else such as writing 500 more words of fiction per day.

This is not to say that I am immediately going to abandon posting. My doubts might just be my natural laziness and resistance to doing something new kicking it. I do need to monitor the situation and try and nudge things back towards the way I want them to be. If I feel my work is suffering I’ll cut back on the posting. Let’s see how it goes for another couple of weeks.

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4 Replies to “The Dark Side of Accountability”

    1. Thanks, Robert. I am not quite ready to give up on this experiment yet. I am just logging how I feel about it and what strikes me as I progress. I did not expect to feel the compulsion to meet expectations quite so strongly.

  1. Consider posting twice a week (same days) rather than daily? The discipline is still required, but there’s less risk of it becoming an excuse to avoid paying work or serious time-sink.

    1. That’s a sensible suggestion, William, but I am not quite ready to give up on the daily posting experiment yet. I think as with so many things I over-reacted here. I looked at my posting last year and was embarrassed by how little I had done. I looked at the Austin Kleon book and thought that sounds interesting. Twice a week would certainly have been more sensible.

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