Organizing and Pre-Writing to Make Your Web Content Sparkle

The word “outline” takes many of us back to our high school English class and brings a shudder. The truth is, your English teacher was smarter than you think. Writers who want their content to be compelling, engaging, informative and sparkly would do well to engage in a bit of pre-writing before they sit down to write their article. Pre-writing can allow you first and foremost to focus intelligently on your topic while narrowing the focus. You will find that your mind opens to ideas you had not thought of once you engage in pre-writing. Pre-writing also allows you to identify any potential gaps in your information—gaps you may not have been aware of. If you tuned out during high school English, you will find some tips below which will allow you to organize your thoughts and thus your content in a way that will have your readers coming back for more.


Focused free writing—what you may know as stream of consciousness writing—is a good beginning point before you attempt an outline. Use a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen and spend from 5-15 minutes summarizing your topic as you let your thoughts roam freely on the specific subject. You will write anything which comes to mind without stopping and without editing or even reviewing what you have written. When your time is up, take a look at your initial topic summary and re-write it. Is it different than the first? Look over your writing and determine whether there are words or ideas you can flesh out on your topic and if a main idea comes shining through.

Outlining and Listing

You are now ready for a more structured and sequential view of your research and your free-writing or brainstorming. Arrange your items and topics in a logical manner without worrying about punctuation, grammar or complete sentences. Make a list of your topics then structure them similarly. Sequence these topics according to their importance—if you have two topics which are equal in importance, place them at the same level; you will likely see one edge out the other as your writing progresses. You can outline on a piece of paper, but know that it will be messy when you are done. If you are someone who cringes at the thought of cross-outs and mark-throughs you should likely do your outline electronically, leaving a nice, pretty outline you can print out.

Reading and Thinking

One way to improve your writing is to read constantly. Make notes of writing styles which engage you and notice how the content is laid out. Writers who are oblivious to what is going on in the world will likely turn out content which is boring and trite. Take a few minutes a day to let your mind wander over ideas which have occurred to you over the past week or so, and capture those ideas on paper before you can forget them. Listening to the conversations of those around you is also a great way to come up with new ideas and inspiration as well as getting different perspectives on old subjects. When you have lots of new ideas, you are ready to pre-write and turn those ideas into valuable content.


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