Received this message from a friend: “Why is it that we even bother to carry “writing” around in our heads? As soon as we sit down to do it, it is completely different than what we’ve been thinking about!”
I know she wasn’t looking for advice because she’s a much better writer than I am. But this resonated with me because it’s been my stumbling block for the last year or so. I have what I think is a great idea to write about and it just doesn’t come out the same (or as good) as when I “wrote” it in my head.
The silly thing is, I know the solution to this problem. I have wisdom gained from being taught and from experience. I know that when I do it, my blog posts are always better. Yet, through haste or sloppiness or hubris, I continue to be inconsistent. It goes to show that we all need reminders and prompts now and then. Good habits are hard to form. (And various other cliches fit here.)
So what is that solution to my writing difficulties? The one I keep neglecting to make use of? A bullet-point outline. Yup, as simple as that.
Creating a short outline takes perhaps 2 minutes, often less. And it’s not difficult – much easier than writing a whole article. It requires no spelling or grammar-checking, no graphics, not even a computer. Sounds like a bunch of pros and no cons.
Here’s the outline I use for outlining:
- Write a sentence describing the main point I want to get across, the goal of my article.
- Jot a bullet list of points I want to include.
I told you it was simple. And if you want to learn a simple process to get from here to publishing your article, check this post.
You might be wondering if I used an outline for this article. Yes, and here it is (transcribed from a scrap of paper):
- outlining is easy – can make a big difference to the quality of content
- intro using MJ’s quote
- explain how easy
- give template for outlining
- link to more info
This is a short post but I did follow my outline. I probably wouldn’t have ended up here if I hadn’t.