Tim Ikels - Creator, Publisher, Marketer

The Sanity of Outlining: Why Structure Sets You Free

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I’ve always been suspicious of anything that feels like busywork. But when it comes to writing non-fiction and helpful ‘how to’ content, particularly the guidebook kind, a solid outline is your compass in the storm.

It might seem rigid at first, a creativity-killer.

Trust me, it’s the opposite.

Think of your knowledge, all those great ideas swirling in your head, as a pile of raw materials.

An outline is your blueprint. It’s where you decide what kind of house you’re building before hammering a single nail.

Change your mind later? Sure, but you won’t be lost in the woods.

Outlining as Liberation

With a clear outline, that overwhelming feeling of “where the hell do I start?” dissolves.

Instead, bite-sized chunks. One chapter, one section at a time.

Suddenly, your intimidating project feels achievable, even exciting.

You gain momentum, the most precious resource for any writer.

An outline is your safety net too. It keeps you from those mid-project panic attacks when you realize you’ve painted yourself into a narrative corner.

An outline helps you spot inconsistencies, gaps in logic, and detours that should be deleted. Doing this upfront saves you tenfold the time and tears later.

But…I Need Room to Breathe!

Absolutely! Your outline is a skeleton, not a straitjacket.

Leave room for brilliance.

Jot down as-yet-unformed ideas, those little sparks that might become whole chapters later.

An outline evolves with your project; that’s the beauty of it.

Get Started (Even If It Sucks)

Don’t overthink this. Start with a simple, vomit-on-the-page brainstorm.

Bullet points, messy diagrams, it doesn’t matter. Get your core concepts down.

Then start imposing order. Group things together. See the natural progression, the step-by-step journey your reader needs to follow.

Be ruthless. Cut anything that feels extraneous, no matter how much you love that clever idea.

Your book is there to serve the reader, not your ego.

The Joy of the Finished Thing

Imagine finishing your draft. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It makes bloody sense!

That’s the power of the outline. It gets you to the finish line, with more joy and fewer drafts.

Now, go build your structure. Then, you have my full permission to let the creative madness flow.

Let’s change the world one well-structured guide at a time.

Stay awesome,

P.S. Questions or comments? Reply via email.

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