Have you ever experienced stress related to writing? Maybe you needed to draft a proposal or send an email to an important person in your organization. Or perhaps you’re writing a cover letter for a job application. One fantastic way to reduce stress and support successful writing is
to use outlines – something I’ve mentioned frequently on this blog. Today, I’m going to run through some ways you can quickly draft outlines to reduce writing stress and craft pieces that will push you ahead.
Determine what you’re writing about
The first and probably most obvious part of creating an outline is deciding what you’re writing about. If your topic is especially broad, finding a narrow focus that allows you to be clear can be a challenge. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want your audience to learn from your piece?
- What ideas or examples facilitate understanding of your subject?
- What conclusions do you want your audience to arrive at by the end?
List the ideas that you want to write about
As you determine the focus of your paper, likely you will also begin to create a list of main ideas important to your topic. This is part of the brainstorming process. Go ahead and embrace it! You can choose to make a list of sources, draft arguments to propel your thesis, or line up the different subcategories under each main heading. Make sure to include support for each idea! These can take the form of persuasive arguments or citations from other authorities. If your piece requires citations, you’ll want to create your bibliography at this stage of the process, not after you’ve written the paper. For less formal forms of writing, such as blog posts, a list of links to other articles is sufficient (and can be embedded into your text as part of the posting process).
Organize your ideas (now points) into something that flows logically
Now that you have your list of topics for your piece, organize them. Your writing form will determine how much or what kind of organizing you need. More formal pieces such as papers, employee handbooks, and client proposal packages benefit from clear structure and organization in their material. A blog post or email can be less formal and more organic. Some organizational structures you should consider include chronological, classification, and cause and effect.
Look at that! You have a beautiful outline that maps out your entire piece from beginning to end. What are you waiting for? Start writing!
If you need more ideas or a professional writer to guide you through the process of writing your next piece, set up a consultation with me to discuss your needs!