A note to self: 5 Steps to Writing a Structured Piece

I have difficulty organizing my thoughts. As I have previously mentioned in my first article “Getting rid writer’s block” I am not a seasoned writer. Knowing this, I practice. I know I will become better. The way to get better is to follow what I ignored for years in my English classes.

Where to start? What to choose? Too many thoughts in your head?

Step 1. Choosing your topic

You have an idea of what you want to write about? No? Not a big deal. If you are writing for personal reasons, then this will come easier because your topic should be written through stream of consciousness. If you are blocked at this step try the following:

  • do something creative, ASIDE FROM WRITING.
  • do something else until you feel inspired.
  • if you are intent on getting your creative juices flowing, write about anything. This could be about your day, something you want to say to someone, words you are thinking about at the moment, what is stressing you out. It doesn’t matter just start writing something to get you writing. It does not have to be perfect, it is just to get you going.
  • If this is for work, often times, your work will choose the subject matter for you. This makes it easier. The struggle often comes from what you will write about or what you will call it. Worry about that later. It will come, or when you are in the revision stage, get someone to suggest a title.
  • Talk to people and get out of your head. You might find a topic other people want you to write about. You might be better with words, others might be better with ideas. Pair up!
Organizing your thoughts becomes easier when you can map them out.

Step 2. Organizing your thoughts!

  • Just start writing down everything you want to talk about, it doesn’t matter what it is, but make it in point form.
  • Notes. Notes are great. Bookmark, earmark, make collections of your research that you think will support your point.
  • DON’T start writing anything structured right away! This is very important.
  • Separate your your thoughts into what you think is important from most to least. These will sort themselves out in a second.

Step 3. Draft writing! Here comes the fun part!

So you have your brainstorming down. You chose points you want to talk about. You found research or support material to back up your thoughts. Well… Catch 22. You won’t really start writing. Not just yet. A little more organizing to be done.

  • Once you have your topic, that will be your main point.
  • Choose a stance on that point.
  • your other thoughts that you jotted down should be either sub points (being main points themselves)

Now you are ready to work on your draft.

  • start with your main topic
  • decide what the problem or issue is and start with that
  • the body of that point should be the support material that you found.
  • conclude that point with a solution, and lead into the next topic.
  • this transitional conclusion should support your main point and then lead into the next topic. The next topic should start with your conclusion topic that you provided as a solution.

4. Rinse and repeat

Follow the draft outline process of topic > supporting points >concluding topic for your next paragraphs. If done right, the piece should write itself. The reason being? You should have all of your points and supporting materials already.

5. Read, revise, feedback

So you are done writing right? WRONG! You need to reread your piece. A lot of writers will tell you that you should read your piece out loud. If you read it out loud and it sounds natural, good job. If it doesn’t you know you will need to rework it.

  • sometimes your work will need to be re-ordered. That is why you re-read it.
  • take a step back from your own work. You are too close to it. Pass it to someone else and see if they understand it. Let them make notes and ask you questions. Adjust accordingly
  • After you have received your feedback, apply the changes. RE-READ once again! This is important.

At this stage once you have re-read, re-written a few parts, selected better words and wording, your piece should be polished off. Read it one last time, and hand it over to another person. At this point, your piece, your topic, and your voice should be understood without issue.

If you get questions or comments at the end of your polished piece, go back to Step 5.

That should do it! Good luck!

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