Writing

The Writing Process: Creating An Outline

Outlining an article is one of the most productive things you can do to improve your workflow while blogging. Creating the outline for this article required only about two minutes to complete, and it will have saved me at least 15 minutes worth of editing time in the end on a typical article like this.

Ironically enough, it was only yesterday when I tried to write a short article without creating my usual outline. I spent around 30 minutes trying to reorder the content correctly as I didn’t want to start over. In the process, I nearly decided to scratch the whole article, but I have heavily revised it since then and will post it soon. This is why it is important to create an outline for all your articles.

My Outline Process

I have never before attempted to define my outlining process for writing, but I will do so as I best can right now. I have broken it down into four steps, and it is fairly simple—nothing too mind blowing here. Still, some people fail to do anything like this, and it is a shame that the short time planning out an article is skipped, but then more time is required to get the finished product.

Steps To Creating An Outline:

1. Come Up With An Idea

The first part in the creation of an outline is to have a solid theme/topic to work with. You must have something to blog about in order to continue the writing process, but some people start writing without having an overall idea as to what they will end up with. I would not suggest starting an article without at least having a basic idea of what you will end up with, but to each his/her own.

2. List Your Ideas

The next order of business would be to, essentially, create a list of each heading for your content. I sometimes like to create a list of the first sentence of each paragraph (which is the next step), but I mostly create a heading for each paragraph of content (as seen above). This method is simple, and it requires little time to place down multiple ideas.

3. Introductory Sentences

After I am done with creating my basic outline which consists of a header for each paragraph, I will then fill in the introductory sentence to the paragraph. This sentence should be the idea which the paragraph discusses; therefore, it should be easy to analyze the flow of your article if you take the time to do this step. Also, it should decrease the amount of time you take to actually write the rest of your article as you don’t have to interrupt yourself to think about what your going to write as often.

4. Check For Theme, Clarity, and Flow

After all the introductory sentences are filled in, I then give them a detailed read to imagine the content that will be written for those paragraphs to make sure the flow of the article is correct. As I have written before in previous articles for Performancing, the time taken right now to plan out your article will save you a lot of time later fixing mistakes.

It Just Works

These methods are simple ways to organize your ideas and maximize productivity. I have repeatedly stressed the importance of planning out your articles, and even if it is a 300 – 500 word article, it still warrants some planning. This was just some insight as to how I plan out all of my articles. It works for 500 word articles like this one, but I also have used it for 3,000 word articles that I have written in the past and right now.

Hopefully you have found a way to improve your workflow. Planning out your content is the best way to reduce the amount of editing you will have to do later on.

If you have a unique way to plan out your articles, please let everyone know in the comments section. I am open to learning new ways to decrease the time I spend writing.

Author: jamesm

5 thoughts on “The Writing Process: Creating An Outline

  1. I’m new to blogging and appreciate any suggestions to streamline the process.

    Yours are particularly invaluable as this is a daily issue and I have an unruly mind!

    Thanks so much.

  2. I often write how-to articles, and have found that actually listing

    Step 1
    Step 2
    Step 3
    ….

    helps structure the flow in a logical format. By the time I’m done, I can visually see where gaps might emerge and fix them prior to writing the actual article.

    Enjoy,

    Barbara

  3. Oh, and as you can see (I added a picture that I forgot to include initially), my initial outline is slightly different from the finished post, but because I created the outline, I was easily able to change everything around. 😀

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