Gay Hendricks has a thing for agreements. You promise to do something, or you promise not to do something, and then follow through. For Hendricks, most of life’s problems can be attributed to a failure to keep agreements.

This doesn’t always mean agreements with others. Yes, your life will be complicated if you fail to fulfill your commitments to your employer, spouse, family, or friends. But you also make agreements with yourself, about your health, hobbies, goals, and personal growth.

The real problem starts after we fail to keep a promise. We ignore the lapse, pretend the other person doesn’t notice. Worse, we might start to lie or make excuses. We start to lose our integrity. Dealing with the fallout of broken promises takes away from the time and energy we’d rather spend living life.

Hendricks recommends that we think carefully before we make any agreements. Is the agreement something we want? Is it something we can fulfill? When you make an agreement, keep it. If you need to change the agreement, communicate this promptly and openly, and consider the feelings of the person to whom you made the promise.

What does this have to do with writing?

As part of your creative practice, consider the promises you’ve made about your writing, and which you’ve broken or changed. Did you skip your scheduled writing time? Did you give feedback on a friend’s manuscript? Did you miss a deadline?

Once you have your list, make amends with the person you let down, even if that person is you. If tackling the whole list is too much, choose one. Go to the person with whom you made the agreement, acknowledge your mistake, and ask how you can correct it.