The Importance of an Outline

by on March 6th, 2015
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When I was in school, I did not like learning about or writing outlines. It felt like I had to do these assignments twice, and I didn’t think it was fair. Now, I’m glad the teachers kept at me, as it is one of the most valuable tools they gave me.

Focus: An outline helps you focus on what you want your article to say. It’s very easy to break off into tangents when doing what we call “free writing.” That is another tool…and a good example of a tangent.

Focus can also be seen in your writing. An unfocused piece is disjointed, and many readers simply won’t continue. Over time, they may even notice your name and not click on anything you write. That will cost you.

Accuracy: Once you’re out of school, you won’t be graded on how accurate your writing is. You’ll either be paid or not be paid. In fact, if you’re inaccurate often enough, you may be fired. An outline provides a basis for proving what you say. It can offer words and phrases to use in search engines to show where your information came from. Accuracy is one of the most important aspects of article writing.

Speed: In writing for a website, how much you earn may depend on how much you can write and how quickly. An outline helps speed up the process. In fact, in this instance, I will often write several outlines before I even start to write, so I can go from one article to the next.

When the Article Won’t Cooperate: That happens sometimes. It happens more when one is writing fiction, but it can happen in article writing as well. If you find that happening, stop and think about what is causing it. It’s often your subconscious telling you that you’ve missed a key point or that you may need to research something a little more.

You don’t have to necessarily follow the formal outlining procedure, complete with appropriate Roman numerals. An outline could be a simple list of words or phrases that are key to what you are writing. If you’re uncomfortable with the style taught in school, experiment until you find the way that’s right for you. You’ll find it really does make writing a lot easier.

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