How to get better at organizing my ideas in writing?
August 30, 2014 11:35 PM Subscribe
How can I get better at organizing my ideas in writing? I want to be able to write essays, long-form blog posts, articles, etc. I want to be able to use in-depth writing as a tool to accomplish things, instead of just enduring it when it comes up. I'm interested in resources (classes? books?), techniques, and advice.
posted by anonymous to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
A little background:
I've always struggled with the process of writing (though not the elements of it - my standardized test scores in writing and language skills were, ironically, always perfect). I'm great at writing things like step-by-step instructions for how to do something, but I clam up as soon as I start working on anything abstract. I understand the idea of making an outline, but when I try to do it, I get stuck and frustrated. Sometimes thinking of questions that need to be answered helps me get prose out, but it doesn't help with structure. I'm totally happy when I'm editing other people's writing (even when I'm contributing full sentences to it), and I have a much easier time seeing and tweaking the structure of a piece when it's not my own. I just can't seem to take that ability to my own work.
Making things more difficult, the process of writing makes me feel terrible, emotionally and physically. In college, writing for assignments was sometimes so painful and daunting that I'd have trouble breathing and sleeping.
I'd originally thought I'd go back to school pretty soon after college. My terror of writing is the #1 thing that's kept me from doing it. I've not applied for jobs I'd probably have been good at because I was afraid they might require me to write things. I'm asking this question now because I'm working on the first ~3000 word writing assignment I've had since college (for a journal in my field that publishes both academics and non-academics), and it feels just as terrible as it ever did when I was in school. I really wish it didn't! I care about the subject I'm writing about, and I want to make a good argument. It's just that I can't, or I feel like I can't. It sucks! So even if I can't improve things this time around, I'd like to do something before I get to next time.