Give Your Ideas Structure

When writing a book, begin with brainstorming to help organize your ideas. At first, your thoughts may be a jumbled mess. That’s perfectly fine! Simply jot your ideas down and you will see them begin to take shape.

There are multiple ways to begin organizing your notes. Over the years, I have used methods such as free-writing, outlines, and webbing. Free-writing is much like it sounds, writing freely without hindrance or self-judgment. Most of my books have begun with free-writing. Opening up a new document, I begin typing out any thoughts I have. Sometimes those documents sit and marinate for months or years before I’m ready to work on them. Other times, I jump right in. But, free-writing allows me to put thoughts down in a raw, authentic way. From there, I find it much easier to see whether an idea merits an entire book, or if it would be better served through a shorter format like a blog post.

Outlines, on the other hand, are incredibly structured and allow me to easily see what needs to be filled in or fleshed out. While free-writing enables me to pour out swirling thoughts, outlines help me begin to see where those thoughts fit. They are my go-to method for book prep.

However, on occasion, I use webbing as an organizational tool. For example, webbing helped me determine the basic sections of my first book. In the center of a page, I drew a circle and put the book’s title inside. Then, drawing several circles surrounding the center, and connecting with lines, I wrote in the major points, one point per circle. These primary points would later become the chapters of my book.

Writers sometimes struggle with determining what each chapter should be about. As in my example above, after considering the singular theme of your message, dissect it into parts, your primary points. Perhaps each section stands alone with its own value to offer. Or, each point may flow into the next one, allowing for an easy-to-see order of chapters. However it goes, remember that this process is fluid. If, while writing, you discover that chapters needs to be shifted around, that’s not a problem. It’s simply part of the journey.

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