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"Bookending" on Twitter Can Keep You Accountable

by The Procrastinating Writer on June 25, 2009

courtesy of BL1961

courtesy of BL1961

By Jennifer Blanchard

Yesterday, I read the article Bookending: Using Twitter to Beat Procrastination and Boost Your Writing, by Marla Beck. It really grabbed my attention. It talked about an accountability method called “bookending.”

So what is bookending?

“[It’s] the simple process of alerting a supportive friend when you begin and when you stop working on a project,” Beck says. “This technique provides us with structure, a witness to our process and support.”

Here’s how it works:

  • When you’re ready to work on a project, you tweet to your friend “I’m writing now” (or whatever you want to say).
  • During the time you’re working, if you decide to take a break, you tweet your friend to inform him/her.  (“I’m taking a break to make dinner.”) Tweet again when you’re back.
  • After you’re finished working on your project, you tweet again to your friend and tell him/her that you’re finished for the session, and then give an update on what you accomplished and what you’re working on for tomorrow.

Using a process like this goes a long way toward being accountable for your writing.

And if you don’t have a specific friend you can be accountable to, why not be accountable to all your Twitter followers? Post updates on there so people can keep track of what you’re working on.  

Beck says bookending on Twitter also has another big advantage.

“Twitter archives your ‘tweets,’ creating a tangible archive of your bookending statements,” she says. “Reviewing a list of your bookends over time provides you with a powerful record of your progress towards your writing goals.”

To read the rest of Beck’s article, visit her blog, The Relaxed Writer.

I think I’m going to give bookending a try. How about you?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome June 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I’m seeing more and more talk about accountability and how we use different tools like Twitter to help us with that. I guess people are realizing that we can’t do it all alone and it’s not just okay but it’s a good thing to ask others for help, even if it is to keep us moving forward.

2 The Procrastinating Writer June 25, 2009 at 1:16 pm

@Alex Fayle We have all these amazing tools at our fingertips (such as Twitter), we should use them! And you can also bookend on other social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others.

3 George Adams June 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

In Software Engineering, we have this idea of Agile Development, most notably the Scrum methodology. In it, a team gathers, and each person states what he or she did in the previous 24 hours, what he or she plans on doing, and any foreseeable roadblocks. It seems that all people, writer or engineer, are motivated by the same social pressure. We place conditions of worth on ourselves where they do not really exist. All we have to do is say that we are doing something, and we become much more productive.

4 The Procrastinating Writer June 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm

@George Adams Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It’s always interesting to see how people in other fields (other than writing) keep themselves accountable.

5 maggie June 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I love this idea! I need that external accountability to motivate me sometimes!

6 The Procrastinating Writer June 25, 2009 at 2:48 pm

@maggie If external motivation keeps you on-task, I say go for it!

7 Annabel Candy June 30, 2009 at 4:52 am

I’ve been doing this but didn’t know there was a name for it! I follow a writer on twitter and he regularly tweets on how many words he’s written and I try to keep up. One day I challenged him to a race and he even let me win:)
Cheers, inthehotspot on twittter
My second rejection email here:

8 Marla Beck July 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

@Jennifer, Thanks for the post here on The Procrastinating Writer! I may not have mentioned it in my post, but wanted to do so here: I hope bookending helps your readers as much as it’s helped me & my clients.

@George, I loved learning about the Scrum methodology-I’m going to read more about it. I’ll bet thinking-through potential roadblocks before they happen (and in the company of other problem-solvers) is very useful.


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