The Accountability Packet | How To Write a Book Step by Step

One of the very first things I have to get sorted is enabling my chosen superweapon; accountability.

In the pursuit of how to write a book step by step, I’m trying to second guess myself in terms of what might trip me up. This could be lots of things, theoretically, but my most powerful enemy is myself. Through the years of being self-employed and starting up my own business, I’ve learned the hard way that one of the most critical tools for a fledgling business is accountability. Your commitments are very much open to change until you set them in stone with another person and have them call you up asking for it.

So I want to bring this strategy to bear on this year-long writing challenge. My mission with accountability is two fold. To set this goal to write a book in a year and make a written commitment to:

  • myself
  • a small selection of people whom will be terrifically disappointed if I let them down

And that’s it in a nutshell. The Accountability Packet, as I’ve come to call it, is a small set email/message/text that is sent to a selection of people.

My text will be word for word the following:

Hi [insert name here],

I want to ask for your help. I’ve just started a personal challenge to write a book in a year and part of this process is to be accountable for my goals. To help with this, I’ve chosen you as one of a small selection of people (there are ten of you) who can help me stay on track and actually finish the word count.

I’d like to ask for two things from you:

  1. To set a reminder in your phone for a year from now, to the day.
  2. When that reminder comes up, to email/phone/confront me and ask me for a copy of the book I’ve just finished.
  3. (optional) Would you like to be an advance reader? Please let me know!

That’s it. If you’re up for it, please do let me know. If not, that’s totally cool too.

One final thing. I believe that an idea shared and chatted about is a very easy way to lose energy in the early stages of a project like this. It’s happened to me a number of times before. I’ve geared up to write something, talked it to everyone, then it never happens.

So, as part of the year long process, I’ll be going quite silent about the work for the next six months.

I know this might sound strange, but I would really appreciate it if you didn’t ask me about the writing for a while. Six months from now is the beginning of August. Please feel free to send me a message around then and ask how it’s going!

In the meantime, in a counterpoint to my personal silence, I’ll be writing a blog for the whole process (including why I’ve done this among other things) over at my own site – it’s barely started at this point, but might give you an idea of what I’m trying to do.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Cheers and catch up soon,


If you’re arriving here after reading that message, then my god You Have Been Chosen.

I’m sat here at my computer at the moment and once I’ve published this post, I’ll send an email out to the ten I’ve got in mind, probably with a little extra at the beginning to not sound like I’m CCing the world.

The affect that I want from this is a direct sense of an approaching deadline (as far off as that might be). And it’s much worse than self-set deadlines now because I’m going to have ten people all getting in touch with me a year from now. And they will be asking to read the book I’ve just finished.

I’m making no promises that the book will be good. The book is the first I’ve published, so I’d expect it to be a little rough around the edges. And probably in the middle too. But what is important is the actual completion. Of setting a goal and nailing it on the head. I have to get to grips with my own version of “How To Write A Book Step by Step”.

If you’re reading this now and thinking about how to write a book step by step, feel free to copy up the above text. Start yourself on the path!

It’s going to work for me. It could work for you too.

So this is Day 2 of 365. Tomorrow I’ll talk the overarching framework and how I’m breaking the entire year down into babysteps.

Thanks for reading

– Tom

By | 2018-03-26T15:30:29+00:00 February 2nd, 2017|How To Write A Book, Month One, Year One|2 Comments

About the Author:

I'm thirty five this year and for work I run my own small website/digital design business. I have a best friend and luckily she is also my wife. This is all capped off with our three year old daughter, who is the greatest/messiest thing ever. I'm writing One Book One Year to kick my own ass into gear with a long term dream, otherwise I'll never do it.


  1. Will Hughes February 11, 2017 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    Since you mentioned this a couple of weeks ago I have put some thought to what I could do. My professional career centred around science so I wrote factual reports, papers and collaborative contributions to scientific articles. Unlike yourself I have never seriously thought of writing a novel – so I don’t feel that I am tackling any specific demons – I don’t know what they are yet! I am also an amateur artist – mostly looking at watercolour and linoprinting – so I will probably think in pictures ( a graphic novel?!?). So in summary Tom you have your demons identified – a good or bad thing – time will tell!

    • Tom February 15, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      I think the identification of flaws and weaknesses was key to actually even getting to this point. The amount of false-starts I’ve had that were halted when energy slipped away, or there wasn’t a framework in place to pick me after the initial rush. I’m sure there are a lot of writers out there, with all kinds of backgrounds, who struggle with the same thing. This is my own solution and I hope there are pieces of that can work for you too!

Leave A Comment