Outline it fast

I’m relistening to Steve Pressfield’s, Do the Work. This book is packed with great tips for anyone trying to create art. I’ll focus on three key tips I’m going to try use this week for anything I want to  write. 

1. Outline it fast!
In the beginning he talks about how anything can be outlined on a single sheet of paper using the below format. For anything you’re creating, focus on these three acts:

  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

2. Start backwards

Next, he offers a screenwriter trick which is to start at the end then work backwards. When you think about this tip, I feel like it makes a lot of sense. It should almost be common sense. If you’re working on any goal you always start with the end in mind. You usually want to achieve something. You might want to run a marathon, start a business, or win an award. Why would writing a story be any different? I think someone once said something like this, “You need to know where you’re going, so you can figure out how you are going to get there.”

3. Don’t turn research into resistance 

This is one of my biggest problems. For many years, and still today, I find myself talking about what I want to do, instead of doing it. There is always something to plan because starting and planning are fun. It’s easy to start a diet, blog, or business but it’s hard to stick with your goal when times get tough. 

I love to read and learn new things. There is a seemingly endless amount of books on my ‘To read’ list or Cousera continues to release new courses that I just have to take. It’s good to read and take new classes but I have a tendency to allow these things to keep me from completing the important work I want to accomplish. Steve recommends only reading three books on your subject, no notes allowed. This forces you to stop researching and start working towards your goal.

That doesn’t mean you won’t do anymore research. There is a time for research later. The point is to limit research in the beginning so we can focus on starting and completing the rough draft now.

If you’ve been procrastinating on any project then you should go find this book—and it’s precursor, The War of Art— right now and read, or listen, to them over and over again. They’re both worth every penny. 

Now, I need to go back to work to use these techniques.