The Importance of Outlining

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The first sentence is always the hardest to write when you don’t know what else you’re going to say.

Many writers believe it is contrary to the creative process to outline their work ahead of time or that a piece is short enough to figure out as they go. Outlining can actually allow a writer to be creative within a framework and create more engaging work in less time.
There is a voice inside everyone’s head. For skilled and experienced writers that voice often works as a narrative voice and has a lot of the same logic and structure as written communication. However, for most people, that voice mimics informal, verbal communication. Talk to a philosopher and perhaps you will get a logical and reasoned reply the first time. Talk to almost anyone else and the conversation will likely jump associatively from point to point based on what the person thinks of next, will follow tangents rather than transitions, and by the end the listener may not have a clear idea of what point was made. Or how often has a winding story made you tune out completely? In person, an audience may be more forgiving or give clues of their waning attention. In writing, however, if you can’t get the audience to read your writing, your book collects dust, a business’s marketing is less effective, and, in general, you sell less.
Written communication should be linear and lead the reader from one point to the next. This is particularly relevant in expository writing and nonfiction. But even in fiction, including the most experimental, the sequence of the scenes or progression of the story is deliberate. Similar to storyboarding a movie, the writer needs to know from the beginning where he or she is going next.
See below the outline for this blog. An outline is not a cage, but a framework. As the writing becomes more complicated, the outline should be more refined and detailed. Writers must invest additional effort to be understood, if they don’t want their audience to struggle to understand.
The EditorMuse
The Importance of Outlining

  1. Introduction
  2. Why we can’t write the way that we talk
  3. How the mind thinks associatively
  4. People are more forgiving of tangents in person
  5. How a logical argument is constructed
  6. How this applies to all kinds of writing
  7. Conclusion

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