Outlining an essay or paper before writing may seem like an unnecessary step. After all, shouldn’t you just START writing?
Having an outline is very important though. It can make the rest of the writing faster and better. Here are 8 reasons why:
1. Enhances Creativity: Taking the time to outline is actually giving you a time-out to just brainstorm freely before you start writing your essay or paper. Once you start writing, you’re thinking of a hundred things at once – what word to use next, what this sentence is going to say, what your paper is actually about. With all that thinking, you don’t have the opportunity to stretch your imagination on what you could really write about.
2. Saves New Ideas: By taking this time-out to outline, not only do you have the freedom to be more creative – you’re giving yourself the chance to capture new ideas and putting them somewhere. They can be added to a section or just filed somewhere to find a home later.
3. Leads to Discovery: Outlining forces you to think about order of ideas and transitions between them. It makes you look for how to fit things together – thereby helping form connections that you might’ve otherwise looked over.
4. Maintains Balance: As you fill out sections with ideas, you can easily tell which areas need more or less attention and detail. Having half the paper be about 1 point while the other 2 points get a sentence each makes for a poor essay.
5. Guides Organization and Writing: Once you’re done, an outline is like a roadmap through your essay. It lets you quickly see where the road is turning and where it’s heading – where you’re making stops and what things you’re just passing by.
6. Keeps Focus: Having a predefined roadmap keeps you focused on the current sentence or paragraph.. No need for pauses to figure out what’s next – just refer to the outline.
7. Saves Time: Without the need for pauses, you can write continuously and more efficiently.
8. Forces Details: By thinking through the big ideas during outlining, you can focus on just the important details as you’re writing. You can concentrate on making the writing strong and clear vs. trying to make sense of it all.