Write While True Episode 43: Transcript

listen | subscribe

I’m Lou Franco and this is episode 43 of Write While True.

Write While True is an infinite loop, and that’s because I think of writing as an infinite game. A game I play for fun and to get better at it. Like a game of catch.

So in each episode, I’ll tell you something I learned about writing, and then I’ll throw you the ball with a writing challenge or a prompt.


This is the fourth episode of Season 4, and the last in a four-part series on how I’m applying the principles outlined in “The Four Disciplines of Execution.”

Let me give you a recap.

In the first discipline, we defined a wildly important goal, something that you are trying to accomplish in addition to the whirlwind of activities that you have to do to keep your life going. My wildly important goal is to publish a 50-page book by the end of 2024.

In the second discipline, we define an activity that you could do at any time which we believe will build up to the goal. My lead activity is to work on the book for at least an hour on five different days each week.

In the third discipline, we build a compelling scoreboard so that we’re constantly aware of our progress on the weekly goal. I’m using the Chronicling app on my phone, which puts a widget on the homepage with my current progress. I can’t help but see it multiple times a day, and it reminds me that I can always schedule an hour and work on the book.

But there’s a hole in this process, and we need to fill that right now. This only works if you’re doing the lead activities consistently, and if they really do build up to the end goal. It’s true that working on the book, for me, it’s intrinsically fun and interesting. And if that’s all that happened, I’d probably be okay with it, but I really do want a book in the end.

So in the fourth discipline, we periodically review our big picture progress.

So the book, “Four Disciplines,” it’s tailored towards businesses, specifically teams within businesses, and they’re trying to reach a communal goal. So what the book suggests is that for the fourth discipline is that you have a weekly meeting that you devote to discussing this wildly important goal and the lead activities and whether any adjustments need to be made.

But I’m working alone. So I don’t have a team to discuss this with.

This doesn’t stop me from doing a weekly review, which I do. When I started the project, for the first couple of weeks, that’s what I did. Just a personal weekly review to make sure I was hitting that five days per week goal and that the process itself seemed to be working. It was during these reviews that I realized that doing the review just by myself wasn’t going to be enough.

So I started to look for a writing accountability group, and I looked in Meetup and I found one in my area called Shut Up and Write. They’re actually a national, maybe even international group, and they have meetups all over the place. So you might look for that in your area. But for me, where I live, they met too infrequently and sporadically to be useful.

And also all the members of the group in my area were writing fiction. So I felt like it was really hard to talk about my project, and I really wanted to find a group that met at least weekly and that at least some of the people were working on nonfiction.

Eventually, I found and joined the useful books community, which is a group of authors that are writing nonfiction books. It was started by Rob Fitzpatrick who wrote the book “Write Useful Books.” I put a link to it in the show notes.

He’s in tech, but the community is more broad than that. They describe the genre as useful nonfiction or to quote, “to create a book that’s so useful that readers can’t help but recommend it.”

So they’re all kinds of different books being written, but we’re similar enough to be useful to each other.

As I record this podcast, it’s April 2024. And I’ve been going to the useful books community writer accountability group meetings at least three times a week. At each meeting, we write independently for most of the hour. So I get three of my five days just by attending these meetings.

The rest of the time, we have quick discussions about problems we’re having. And there are also online discussion boards where we can have asynchronous discussions. So I’m getting the accountability benefit from applying the fourth discipline. Meeting with this group has made it easy for me to hit my lead measure and gives me more confidence that I’ll end up with a book by the end of the year.

The different authors are at different stages in their book. And some of them have even published books already using this method. So they’re really helpful at letting you know what’s ahead.

So this week, the thing to do is to try to find an accountability group or at least a single person.

If you’re writing nonfiction, then you might try the useful books community. Just a heads up that it’s $30 a month. But well worth it if you’re trying to write for your business or career.

But honestly, you only need one other person. So don’t be shy about reaching out to someone in your network. You only need one hour each week with them.

The structure of our meetings is for each person to give a quick statement of their intention during the writing session. And then we do at least 40 minutes of writing. And then we have a recap at the end where each of us says what we did in that time. The “Shut up and Write” groups that I mentioned on Meetup have a similar structure. You could easily do that structure with just one other person.

So go out and find them.

This has been Write While True, a podcast where we love infinite loops as long as they’re fun.