Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Foolscap Method.

Before you read my article, check out the orginals:


Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Posted in Writing Wednesdays | 21 Comments »


Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Posted in Do The Work WednesdaysWriting Wednesdays | 28 Comments »


Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Posted in Writing Wednesdays | 29 Comments »

The Foolscap Method

Full disclosure up front: “The Foolscap Method” is not my idea. In fact it is not even the idea of the person to whom I attribute it. Steven Pressfield is the New York Times bestselling author of The legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire and The Lion’s Gate as well as co-publisher of Black Irish Books. He writes of the Foolscap Method in his blog on and in his book The Authentic Swing.

So what is the…Method? In short, it is a simplified way to illustrate a strategy or idea from start to finish in a single context. In other words, it is the big picture.

So what is Foolscap …? Foolscap is and 8 ½ by 14 inch, lined, yellow legal pad. Foolscap was once a paper products company that produced the most well known line of legal pads in America and, so like Kleenex, the legal pad became branded.

I must apologize at this point in the article if you were expecting something more elaborate or exciting but there it is: The Foolscap Method is a draft plan on a single, legal-sized, sheet of paper. Lined and simple. However simplicity belies effectiveness.

Quoting Steven Pressfield, quoting Norm Stahl (who deserves origination credit): “God made a single sheet of foolscap exactly the right length to hold the outline of an entire novel.”

“What is the Foolscap Method about? Basically, it’s a way to kick your own [bum], either at the very start of a project or when you’re six months into something and you’re so lost you can’t remember where you started or where you’re trying to go,” says Pressfield.

Think of it as a draft of a business plan, it is your tentative plan. Start at the end, what you want to accomplish, your goal. Make a note of where you are now at the top of the page and work to fill in the middle. Do it all on a single 14 inch sheet. It’ll be ugly, incomplete, and full of scribbles, doodles and cross-outs. But, and a big one, it’ll get you started – it will initiate movement. It will help develop context.

“The Foolscap Method is a way to get a big project started—a novel, a Ph.D. dissertation, a new business. It’s a trick, but a very wise and astute one. It’s not just a technique for organizing one’s thoughts, it’s a way to outfox Resistance [Pressfield’s personification of procrastination] … Outline the sucker. Break it down to its fundamentals. Identify its theme. Do it on one page. Do it without preciousness. Do it now.”

I have always used a variation of this method, even before Steven Pressfield put a name to it. I still use it. From my days of Army planning I developed a group version of it that I call “The Imagination Board.” The Imagination Board is naught more than a large white board and a fist full of multi-colored dry-erase markers. When I ran the ROTC department at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma I even build a 16 foot conference table with two whiteboard sheets to teach the senior Cadets planning.

I invite you to use the Foolscap Method to start your plan and bring it to me to discover some of the tools we can use to make it a reality. Or come to my office and I will help you start a Foolscap and bring your entrepreneurial dream to life. Further, if you have a great idea for Arlington stop in and let me know – I’ll add it to the Foolscap I am using for economic development planning.

My office is located in Norgaard Insurance on Main Street and I have 20 square feet of Imagination Board waiting. Stop by and we will see if the Foolscap works as well for you as it has for me.

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