Something I’ve been thinking about lately (there’s backstory that has to do with a Composition Theory class I’m taking, but I know no one cares, so I’ll skip that).
When you’re writing something, do you use outlines? If so, how formal of an outline? If you don’t use outlines, do you do something else to organize your thoughts or do you just write and go?
For instance, for me, it varies. Cosmic Hellcat scripts for instance are way more like a very loose outline than a formal script, because Max and I work well that way, and it gives him room to insert concepts into the story that I didn’t write.
When I’m writing something academic, I tend to not do outlines. I draw mind maps on the white board in my office, and that helps me organize concepts I want to include, but I tend not to think of them linearly, so I can’t visualize them as an outline. As an undergrad, I always hated when a teacher asked me to turn in an outline for a paper. I ESPECIALLY hate when it happens in grad school. It’s always a lie. I don’t know organizational flow of a paper I’m writing until after I write it. Way after, in fact, because I tend to shift things around a LOT when I’m editing. It works far better for me to organize my thoughts as I’m writing. I *think* most people actually write like this, but I don’t really know, which is why I’m surveying.
My students say they like when I give them outline exercises to do. They tell me that when I have them do one, it helps them to organize their thoughts and gives them a better idea of what I am looking for in their papers. That said, students are full of shit. If I were in their place, I’d totally say something like that if my teacher asked just because I feel like it’s the right thing to say.
So instead I ask you oh wise and glorious internet full of people I have no authority to grade. Are outlines helpful at all? And if not, what is?