I’ve grown up writing. It’s really been my life. There are several notebooks in my basement filled with writing assignments from fourth grade until the end of High School. My laptop has dozens of large writing assignments still saved from High School and College. However, it really wasn’t until last semester that I narrowed in on my writing method and it birthed some of the best writing I’ve created (and I did it in record time). Two heavy, 8-week classes dominated my time for a couple of months last semester and people looked at me like I was crazy when I told them how much writing I was doing. The last week of classes alone I wrote more than 3600 words. Inevitably, I developed a method. And that is what I am going to share with you!
I grew up writing with the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum. My family is now selling for them because we really believe it is the single best writing curriculum and method out there. I would encourage you to check out their website. If you are in High School or College, think about getting the Advanced Communication Series to hone in your writing skills. Obviously, the IEW method has stuck around with me and I am going to show you the bare bones of how I typically write a paper or a blog post.
Alright. First we start with an outline. You probably already are familiar with what an outline entails, and you might think it’s a waste of time. Personally, I think those flow chart outlines or spider outlines or whatever they call them are a waste of time. All it does is tell you what category your thoughts are in. Blah. What you really should be doing is just a basic, numbered outline and I’ll be showing you how to do that. Rarely do I write anything without first writing an outline (and when it comes to school, never). The reason I always write an outline is because when I am writing the beginning of the post, I know what will be at the end of it. Having it all planned out gives me control and a knowledge of the big picture. Here are the steps:
one. Figure out what your paragraphs are going to be about and how many you’ll have. I like to write one or two key words and box it up like so:
In this outline, I have three boxes and three paragraphs. This timeline makes my writing organized, concise, and to the point. two. Each paragraph gets a Roman Numeral. After the Roman Numeral I write the topic of the paragraph. Then, I number my thoughts. A “thought” consists of 3-5 key words all of which make it into the final sentence in either the original form or as a synonym. In addition to your key words, feel free to use symbols and pictures and even shortcuts (for instance, writing a word, circling it, and crossing it out to represent not doing that thing). A symbol doesn’t count as a word, so go all out with those! Each line usually becomes about a sentence; sometimes I write a point in two sentences, sometimes I combine two of them to make one sentence. This provides for a skeleton. As I actually write the paper or post, I am better able to brainstorm and let ideas play off of ideas. three. Now it is time to actually write the first draft. Hopefully I haven’t lost you yet! Bear with me. When you write off of an outline, all you have to do is structure the sentences around the words and symbols you’ve written down. That is the easy part. You might still be thinking, “What is the point of all this? Outlines are a waste of time and I am organized enough to just skip it and move on with my life.” I’d venture to say that none of us are. We all can benefit greatly from a plan, and really that’s all this outline is>> a structured plan. Now is the time to execute. Yes, it goes further than just writing down the words you planned to write down. Your job is to sound like you know what you’re talking about. How do you do that? No, the ultimate secret is not found merely in a Thesaurus. It is actually found in changing the structure of your sentences. Sound fancy? It’s actually quite simple. Here’s an example>> It is easiest to start a sentence with a noun. Just take this entire paragraph (Look at which words I started with in each sentence: Now; Yes, it; Your job; The…secret; It; It’s). Only one sentence in this paragraph didn’t start with a noun or pronoun of some sort. Here’s the challenge>> You’ll want to start your sentences with different parts of speech like Adverbs that end in an -ly, Prepositions, Verbs ending in -ing or -ed, and a word like “When” or “While”. I know this probably just looks atrocious and makes less sense than is humanly acceptable. Here’s an example>> Sentence 1: She forced him to go shopping with her. (Opening with a subject) Sentence 2: Typically, she forced him to go shopping with her, and he hated it. (Opening with an adverb [-ly]) Sentence 3: Instead of asking her friends to come, she forced him to go shopping with her. (Opening with a Preposition) Sentence 4: Although she knew he would hate it, she forced him to go shopping with her. (Opening with an Adverbial Clause which means you use one of the following>> “When”, “While”, “Where”, “As”, “Since”, “If”, “Although”) Make sense?
So how does this method help you? Well, the outline saves time and makes you organized. When your thoughts are organized, you sound like you know what you’re talking about. Also, if your sentence structure is mixed up, the attention of your audience will be held more easily which is just a win-win for everyone (since your opinions will obviously make the world a better place). If you have a lot of papers to write for school, the best way to get them done is to have a Ready-Aim-Fire approach and this method is just that. The structure of the outline causes you to have to ask yourself questions and that helps a bunch with writer’s block. When you have structure and guidelines, brainstorming comes a lot easier and more ideas ensue. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. With these building blocks, execution will become second nature and you’ll be able to write anything and everything! And as much as that freaking teacher assigns you.
If you know what comes at the end when you’re still just working on the beginning, your whole paper will be stronger, more concise, and easier to read. And that’s the main thing this kind of outline offers you>> omniscient knowledge of your entire paper.
Hope this helped! Writing is something we all need to be able to do, arguably more so now even than math (guys, we have computers). If you can write a thought down, you can do lots of things like create a personal brand, minister to people, get into college, and so much more. I’d encourage you to practice using this outline method that I’ve laid out! I swear by it and always will!
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