(This is a guest post by Linda Dessau, You Talk, I'll Write, and it's great advice for article, newsletter and blog writing.)
"I know we all hated them in school but outlines really can be helpful and worth your time." - Lynne Klippel, March 27, 2010 on Twitter
Last week one of the students in my group program (Content Creation Capsule) proclaimed, "This is exactly what I needed!" What had her so excited? An article outline.
An outline can be as simple as a set of questions. In fact, I often provide questions to prospective newsletter contributors to make it easier for them to draft their article. I simply tell them what I'm curious about in terms of the topic. I do the same thing when I'm interviewing guests for teleseminars.
Let me use this article to demonstrate a really simple set of outline questions:
- What's the point?
- Who cares?
- How do I do it?
Who cares? Here are the top three benefits of article outlines:
1. They get you started. Article outlines are a great icebreaker in the brainstorming process. If you're having trouble sparking your creative mojo, work with your left brain for awhile to at least get the words started.How do I do it? Create an article outline by answering my three questions: what's the point, who cares and how do I do it? Or draft your own list of questions for a topic based on what you're curious about, or what you think your readers are curious about.
2. They keep you focused. Outlines can also help ensure you're not trying to say too much in one article. If your article outline looks too long, it's pretty likely your article will be as well.
3. They support your strategy. If you "begin with the end in mind" (as per Stephen R. Covey), an article outline can keep you aligned with your overall marketing strategy (e.g., this article is meant to demonstrate the benefits of a solution you offer).
Linda Dessau, founder of You Talk, I'll Write, has helped dozens of coaches finish hundreds of writing projects and put those projects to work for them. Linda is the author of The Customizable Style Guide for Coaches Who Write: Look Smarter, Write Faster and Get Better Results from Your Writing. Visit www.forcoacheswhowrite.com for a free readability checklist that will help you improve anything you write.