Outlining Your Writing

As a writer I am a very by the seat of my pants person. I don’t always outline my work and when I do it’s one think I really don’t like to do. It takes me a while to do it and I grump the whole time. So why do I outline sometimes then? Well, because sometimes it’s a good idea to know where you want your story to go. It’s helpful to have an idea of what your characters are like. To “meet” them and what their personalities are like. I would like to add that even though I’m taking this from a novelist approach it’s a great idea for bloggers to outline as well. It will help your article to read smoother if you have ideas and info written before writing.

The reason I have such a problem with outline is that I personally feel it kills my creativity most of the time. However, there is a flip side to this and it’s that sometimes I have no idea where to start. There is an upside to outline and that is it can and does help you flow through your writing easier (for most anyway). I know I will have people shaking their heads no and saying I’m with you sister, it kills creativity! 

Still, I am here, a person who cringes at the thought of outlining telling you to have at least a general idea of your characters, plot,  sources, whatever depending on what you are writing. Remember when we did the little web type outlining in school? I tend to start with a simple one and grow from there (when I do outline). I also have an Evernote notebook where I keep articles with info pertaining to the story or article I’m writing. Truthfully for all my grumbling when I do gather info and outline I spend a couple hours on it. 

Make it a habit to outline every now and then I promise you’ll notice some difference in how much work you get done. I suggest researching and trying different outlining methods until you find one that fits your style. I’m still going to be a mostly by the seat of your pants writer but I’m never not going to totally outline. I mostly outline info about the time period I’m writing about in my books and it’s nice to have that info at the tips of my fingers instead of searching all over the web while I’m trying to write. 

I am going to share with you some tools that can help you outline fast and effectively so you can get on with writing 

  • Evernote-with Evernote you can add links, pictures, and notes. I love using this tool because I can usually add everything I need to it and have it all right where I need it in one place
  • Microsoft Word- Word had templates you can use for outlining and I find them easy to use. I love that I can have bulletins and making info easy to find. I can have links directly in the template allowing me to click and go directly where I can find the needed info. I can make the text different colors and easily scan for what I’m looking for. 
  • OneNote- This is another Microsoft tool that is easy to use for outlining. Like Evernote you can have notebook style notes. You can drag and drop info into a new slot. You can use lists and bullets to make finding information easier. It has tabs at the top so you can name each of your notebooks so you can find what you need when you need it. It is very easy on the eyes and easy to navigate

These are the three I use the most and know the most about. I know there are more and would love to hear your suggestions of others so that my readers can have a great list of choices for outlining. Let me know if you use any of these I listed and what you think in the comments! 

One Reply to “Outlining Your Writing”

  1. Gah….You have described me to a Tee!
    When I have to write, I have a rough idea of what I need to write about and I have to just start writing and it slowly comes together.
    I have found though that I will take screen shots of ‘stuff’ that pops up in my social media feeds so that I can save a picture or text that I want to use somewhere down the track

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