To Outline Or Not To Outline?
I’m the type of writer who just likes to start writing. When I initially get an idea, I often take notes and then just let my ideas flow. What usually happens though is I have many ideas and no clear direction of where I want the paper or story to go. I write up to a certain point and stop, suffering from writer’s block with writing that has no structure. I expect ideas to keep flowing, but when they don’t I discover that my writing method may not be the best option. I’ve realized that organization and structure are missing, and if I had used an outline, then I wouldn’t have gotten stuck as easily.
In the past, I avoided outlines because I felt I was obligated to follow them verbatim, that I had to write in the exact same order I’d outlined. Using an outline made me feel trapped. Now, I look at an outline as a road map that gives me permission to write out of order and change things in the process.
There is no rule that says I must write my papers or stories in chronological order. My thoughts don’t come to me that way all the time. However, I do think an outline can show me how to develop structure, organize my thoughts clearly, and ensure my ideas flow with a purpose. I believe that my purpose when I write is to convey a clear and interesting message to my readers. Using an outline has helped me achieve that goal more often.
Virtual Writing Center