Computer_ideas (photo by graur razvan ionut)

Yesterday I read a generally good post from the HBR blog on becoming a faster writer. I agree with most of author Bob Pozen’s assertions, especially this one:

“…you've got to be willing to write a first draft that is rough. Most people feel they have to write a really good first draft and that's why they get writer's block. In many cases, it's only when you actually finish your first draft that it comes to you how the whole piece fits together.”

How many times have you heard me say something like that?!

But I don’t agree so much with his suggestion that we need to outline to “spell out the logic of the argument”. In my experience, outlines are more about structure and order than logic or ideas. Yes, you can map out a section, but because outlines are basically lists – no complete sentences or anything – I’ve never been able to make one do more than help me figure out where to start and end, and possibly how to get there.

For my time and money, I’d rather spend pre-writing/planning time doing something more directly related to the ideas and audience. Here at The Word Factory, we use a number of pre-writing strategies to map out the logic and concepts of a piece. I’ve written about these babies before all over this blog (check out this entire category of posts: writing). Here’s an overview of forms and the strategies that work best for them:

I realize this alphabet soup doesn’t mean anything, so we’re offering a set of pre-writing strategies free: Smart Starts. This excerpt from our upcoming book gives you a variety of ways of pre-writing and planning your document that beat the pants off an outline. Check it out and give one or two a try. Contact me if you’ve got questions.

Good luck and happy writing!


Interested in having us provide a training session on pre-writing/planning? Click here for more information: Training & Workshops.