A few days ago I was speaking to a client who is a business coach. My client has brilliant ideas but is struggling to organize her writing on paper. To be able to advise her I had to think back to when I first started writing.
I have a confession. I hated writing in high school and college. Often I would procrastinate until the last minute. What would invariably save me was my ability to outline. I would break down the subject into several title headings and then –this was prior to my knowledge of bullet points-number the sub headings. The subheadings would then be further broken down into lettered paragraph topics.
This would give me an overall plan. Then I would simply fill in a few sentences on the subject and tie the paragraphs in with a transitional sentence or two, yielding a complete paper. Because I was lazy, I learned to write in the most economical style possible, conveying my ideas in a succinct and forthright manner.
When I began my first novel, I adapted a technique I had learned from my college major, anthropology. We used diagrams to outline family relationships-something like a genealogical chart. If you are writing fiction you can use this for developing characters and determining how they relate to each other. If you are writing a technical subject you can use this method for seeing how the parts will relate to the whole.
PUT EVERYTHING ON A BIG PIECE OF PAPER
This was a trick I used in studying foreign languages. I would use a large piece of drawing paper to write out everything I would need to know on a test-conjugations, tenses, idiomatic phrases etc. The purpose was not to lose track of essential matter by having everything in clear sight and not on multiple pieces of paper.
There are softwares available nowadays which will allow you to do the same thing.
Begin by breaking down an article in your niche, or a simple short story, to get the hang of these three techniques. Once you begin writing your text, you will undoubtedly deviate from your outlines. Don’t hesitate to follow your instincts, and feel free to change things around. As you progress, you will be able to throw these crutches away and let your writing flow spontaneously.