by Cris Yeager | DIGITAL MEDIA GHOST | WRITING
A strong writer knows exactly what tools are most useful to their skill. Some wildly talented writers already have a story in their head - they just pound it out on the keyboard without blinking an eye. But we all can’t be that gifted. For most writers, skill is the key factor. Even having top-notch skills won’t totally get the job done. Sometimes we need to organize our thoughts. Writers have a special toolbox to enhance their skills. That happy little imagined chest may contain an editing program to polish up the rough edges, it might be an inspiration board that was curated over a few weeks or it could actually be an outline.
We learned the art of outlining in grade-school English and grammar. There must be a solid reason we were taught to map out our writing, right? Could it be because outlines are the most practical way to organize and detail writing thoughts.
Using an outline is the easiest and best way to organize a writing project. Being able to sort out the facts and write in detail may be one of the best tools available to writers. And . . . it doesn’t cost a single cent. Sure, there are products and online sites that can do something like this for you, but why pay for it when all that’s needed is a keyboard, a writing program (which writers already have) and a brain. If you can put information into a program, you can make an outline yourself. Money saved. You’re welcome.
Outlines make the completion process easy. That’s a simple fact. A writer is able to separate important information into sections, which helps to categorize details from beginning to end.
The biggest question here is: Are writers still using outlines today in their writing projects?
Still just as important
Yes. Writers are still using outlines! Novelists, ghostwriters and even bloggers (pointing at myself) continue to utilize this age-old tool to hammer out writing ideas. For some writers, an outline is the first step in crafting writing ideas.
For that reason alone, this could make the outline the best writing tool in existence for any writer. Not only can it be used for organizing thoughts, it can also then be transformed into a detailed piece of work that’s already close to completion.
It’s a process
Outlining can be implemented in a series of steps too!
Basic outlining: Used to sort facts and separate information.
Detailed outlining: For filling in detail in each section.
Finished outlining: Transforming those details into strong sentences that flow well into paragraphs.
Here are examples of the outlining process I used for this very blog post!
Click each image to enlarge and view!
As you can see, I used a 3-step method to sort, separate and conquer the writing of the blog post! Once you have a completed outline, it’s safe to move on to other writing processes like editing.
I use an outline for every single blog post I write. I use an outline for everything! I also curate hundreds of social media posts each month. I place content in a specific format for each post. Guess what? It’s a mini outline!
I find it strangely satisfying to make an outline. Maybe that’s weird, but it gives me peace of mind that I’m not missing any detail.
I was curious to see if other writers were using outlines as well.
I decided to pop in on a ghostwriting group I admin on Facebook and I asked:
I received thirteen responses!
Most commenters/writers/ghostwriters were generous enough to explain ‘why’ they use an outline for their writing projects. Out of the thirteen, I had permission from nine group members to share their quotes. Here are the responses:
Three members simply said ‘100% still used.’
Oldest and strongest
Now knowing that I’m not alone in using what I initially thought was ancient knowledge, I realize that outlines are just a classic feature we’re taught when we’re young to make the most of what we decide to write about. This fact alone may possibly determine the outline to be one of the best and oldest tools in a writer’s toolbox.
Outlines may also be the strongest tool! Remember when we were kids and we were trying to tell a story and got the facts all switched around? Or when we tried to tell a joke and didn't land the punchline simply because our brains couldn’t remember the details in order? Yeah. If we’d had outlines for all of the things . . . we would have nailed it!
An outline may be one of the oldest writing tools, but it’s still widely used by writers. It’s a great tool for writing. If you aren’t using outlines to organize and detail your writing, you should be!
In closing, outlines can be used for many different reasons from video scripting to catalog descriptions. Use them and use them well!
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