Should you outline before you write?

Outlining works for some writers, and it doesn't for others. The choice to outline is heavily dependent on your situation.

In my experience, there are times when outlining works, while there are instances when it’s not necessary. It mostly depends on the topic I’m working on. If it is something I'm familiar with, I usually go straight to article writing. If it's a more challenging subject, then I make an outline to organize my thoughts and ensure that I don't forget important pieces of information.

If you're wondering whether you should outline before you write, look at the pros and cons to determine if it is for you. 

Pros

Outlining provides direction. When you create the framework for your piece, you can decide on the direction that you want it to go, and you can focus on that. 

This will help you to save time because you know what points that you are trying to make.

Outlining lets you dig deep into your subject. Writing involves developing your ideas and finding necessary resources and information to back them up. When you create an outline, you will determine what areas need more research. It helps you figure out if you need to interview an expert, conduct an experiment, or create images for your piece.

Since you know what points to include, you will know what areas to exclude as well. This will help you create a piece that is smooth, concise, and focused.

Outlining avoids writer’s block. When you know exactly what you want to communicate, the words come easier. An outline can help you avoid writer's block by organizing your thoughts and ideas so that you can easily translate them into your piece.

Cons

Outlining takes time. Outlining takes time, and sometimes the time you spend creating it may be enough for you to finish one article or blog post. When you have a lot of work to do and deadlines to meet, creating an outline may double the time you allot for finishing a piece.

Outlining can hinder the flow of creativity. When you have an outline, you simply fill up your points with the necessary information, and this may not work for others who want to write more freely and creatively. Fiction writers, for instance, may be inhibited by outlines from thinking out of the box and exploring other possibilities for their plot and characters.

Outlining may not be necessary, because it’s easy to edit these days. During the era of white-outs and typewriters, outlining was a must. It was so imperative that what you put on paper in those days was correct and final, and applying major changes ate up a lot of time and effort.

Today, however, editing and playing with a piece’s structure is easier, thanks to technology and word processing software.

It all boils down to choice

Writers have different styles, and their method of getting work done is unique to them. Just because one writer outlines doesn’t mean you should too. It all depends on your preferences and what method you’re comfortable using. 

If you can write better with or without a draft, then do so. Meanwhile, if you want your creativity to flow, yet you don’t want to forget important points, you can simply write those ideas down instead of creating an outline.  What matters is you get your piece done and present it in the best way possible. 

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