Last week, we showed how reading helps to develop your skills as a writer. This week, we will look at the importance of creating an outline.
If you are like me, you will want to resist this advice. You have probably waited too long to get started writing (check out this blog on procrastination), and the last thing you want to do is spend more time not writing. You would rather get something down on paper to create some momentum and then figure it out as you go.
THIS IS A BAD IDEA.
While it might not seem to be the case, taking the time to create an outline will actually save time in the long run. Here are a few ways that outlines will save you time and make you a better writer.
1) Outlines cut down on writer’s block
Outlines help to drastically reduce writer’s block that will almost always find its way into your brain. Everyone has moments where they write a paragraph or two and then…nothing. What do I say next? If you outline before you start writing, you will be less likely to get stuck in the middle with nothing to say.
2) Outlines help you avoid getting lost
Outlines are like a map or GPS for your writing. There is nothing worse than setting out on a road trip to the beach or the mountains and getting lost along the way. This is why a good map or GPS system are really important for getting where you need to go. An outline serves a very similar purpose when writing a paper. Without an outline, it is very easy to get lost (even in your own brain!!!!) in the writing process, even if you have several good ideas.
3) Outlines allow you to see the light at the end of the tunnel
One of the benefits of an outline is that it allows you to see that light at the end of the tunnel, even before you type or write your first sentence. When you create an outline, you get to see your whole paper laid out in front of you, which will provide the motivation you need to push through to the end. Being able to see the finish line throughout your writing process will help to keep away that “this is never going to end” feeling.
Recapping the benefits of an outline
Taking the time to develop an outline is one of the most important elements in the writing process. In fact, according to this article from US News and World Report, outlining is the
“single best means for ensuring your final paper is well reasoned.”
It keeps you focused, motivated, and above all else; it saves a ton of time. How much time have you saved yourself by outlining before you write? We would love to hear from you, so please share in the comments below.