By Steven Pressfield | Published: February 3, 2014
This week’s question comes from Stelios Perdios. He ask …
I’m half-tempted to apply the Foolscap method to 2014 to help plan my goals. It sounds silly, but there’s already a built-in protagonist (me) and a villain (Resistance). Also, I’d rather chose my own theme for the upcoming year rather than ponder it in retrospect. Furthermore, if I divide the year into three acts, then I know what scenes I need to be in to achieve my overall goals as a writer. Most importantly, the storyline for the year is on a single sheet of paper. I’ve tried other goal setting methods with mixed results. But this seems to provide some flexibility to handle day-to-day or week-to-week challenges while keeping the overall goals in sight. What do you think? Would this work? Have you done it (or something like it) yourself?
Steve: So I think Stelios, you’re being a little diffident and modest about this, but I think it’s absolutely a great idea—and the Foolscap Method is a perfect way to organize a year.
Now, just to review for people here . . . The concept of the Foolscap comes from my friend Norm Stahl—one of my mentors—who once said to me “Steve, God made a single sheet of Foolscap to be exactly the right length to hold the whole outline of a novel.” So, the concept of the Foolscap Method is to conceive of your enterprise, whatever it is you’re trying to do, your ambition in a boiled down form that can be put on a single page, so that you boil it down to its absolute fundamentals, and you take it from A to Z. The whole thing is right there on one page, and I think it’s an absolute great way, Stelios, to divide a year.
Let’s say that you’re the protagonist, the villainous resistance, it’s exactly right. That’s what you have to worry about because Resistance—we’re talking about people calling us up with their urgent things, email, Twitter, all this other bullshit that pulls us away from what we’re trying to do—that’s resistance, that’s the enemy, that’s what we have to set aside. So, that’s the villain. Ourselves, we’re the hero, and the theme will be whatever it is that we want to accomplish over this year. Jeff is working on a web series here. So he may say, “I want to have by the first six months of this year, I want to have eight episodes done, and by the end of the year, I want to have season two blocked out in script form and ready to roll.” So, there’s the theme of the whole thing. Now if we want to break it down exactly into three acts, we can do that, too. What’s the beginning? What’s the middle? What’s the end? So I think that’s a great way of looking at the year.
Looking at it . . . Again it’s sort of like thinking in blocks of time. Look at it all in one piece—what you want to accomplish for this whole year—then take it back one step at a time. What do I need to do? The individual steps to accomplish that. Foolscap I think is a great idea.