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.


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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  1. Mary Doyle on February 3, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Kudos to Stelios for coming up with this novel application for the Foolscap! Thanks for sharing this with the rest of us Steve.

  2. Charlene on February 3, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Hi Steve, I’ve recently read the War of Art and Turning Pro and found them provocative and motivating.

    Also, love the foolscap your writing/life idea. I’ve created a 1 page planner to create an overview of your intentions and key goals for a year. If you think it’s something your readers might like they can download it at the link below. Wish I’d thought of adding a theme for the year. Like that! C.

  3. Jenny Hester on February 3, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Very interesting. Great way to look at this.

  4. Kathy Ostman-Magnusen on February 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I am ALWAYS blessed by your posts. Thank you!

  5. Kathy Ostman-Magnusen on February 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    One step at a time.. gads.. nts

  6. Angela England on February 3, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    What a great exercise! I like this as a more robust working out of your overall goals. Not just “what do you want to accomplish?” but “how will you get there?”. I especially think it is important to think through the potential obstacles and be PREPARED for the idea that things won’t be smooth sailing.

    It’s easy to say – I want to write 1000 words a day every day but then get completely derailed if you miss your goal one day. In your foolscap idea though you’d write “And if I miss one day because all my my kids get the flu I will forgive myself and start again the next day.” Now you’re prepared. Smart, so smart.

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