An outline is a roadmap to a complicated project. It marks out the destination, as well as the big and small side trips you want to take along the way. An outline offers orientation and direction. With it in hand, you can see where you’re going and how to get there–you don’t need to wander around lost.
However, an outline can leave open the question of how, exactly, you’re supposed to get to where you need to be.
To answer this question–a question implicitly posed by the blank page or blinking cursor–consider the call sheet. It’s a tool that can help your execution.
A call sheet is typically used to organize the production of a film. It’s the daily memo from the assistant director to the cast and crew that describes the day’s shooting and production schedule, as well as related logistics like on-set participants and call times.
Like an outline, a call sheet breaks down a big project into its component parts. Unlike an outline, which provides more of a map toward a destination, a call sheet breaks down each leg of a trip into its component parts.
Consider it an itinerary— a companion document to support your on-time arrival. Its daily schedule includes the day’s most pertinent details, making actualization straightforward.
If you’ve created an outline and are wondering why the project isn’t really easier to complete, first turn your outline entries into questions, and then create a call sheet to guide tomorrow’s work. Include on the call sheet the date, the project’s title, the number of words completed, and the number of words to complete that day. Include, too, the title of the part of the outline on which you’ll focus, the segments you’ll write, and the research required to support/complete those segments. Then, specify the times you’ll allot to the work and your daily schedule, including anticipated interruptions and other necessary breaks.
When tomorrow comes, review your outline, consult your call sheet, and start writing as fast you can.