By in Writing

Writing Up a Mess - 3

Starting out at random

Tip number 1 was a notebook and Tip number 2 was a journal. Both of those accept information at random, that is, when you choose to add it and in the order that you decide to input it. Some people keep a continuous record, rather like a blog. Others use page dividers, to add information on different topics into different sections.

Building a Framework

Tip number 3 is to use an outline. Now, I hear you say, you promised us we would be able to write up from a mess. And so you will. If you are going to write a long novel, a long report or work on a project with several other people or over a long period of time, believe me, it will end up a mess, no matter how much you outline right from the start. Or at least, it always does with me and I have had to learn to work with this, as opposed to sitting looking at it in frustration, wondering where it all went wrong and how I am going to fix it, apart from starting all over again.


There will be a whole series of tips here. Choose the ones that work best for you, or try each one out and see if it helps. You won't know unless you try. If you don't like this one - there are more to come.


An outline is really useful when you don't know where to start. You don't have to write much straight away and what you do write, is more on the lines of "what I want to include" which isn't as scary when you are starting out to write something big. An outline also helps you overcome the tyranny of the blank sheet of paper, as I have heard it described and it can be very motivating because (a) you can add a number after each point, to show how many words you think you should write; 100 words for instance, is not very long and it's easy to believe yourself when you say, "I can write 100 words on this subject" and (b) you can see the number of words mounting up in small believable increments to create a much longer document. If you think you should write a much longer piece, then you add more lines to your outline, to break it down even further.


I don't know much about Twitter but I have been learning from BarbRad and melody23 , who let me know about how to build my following on Twitter and some tools that can be used. If I want to learn about the use of Twitter AND create a useful article for myself, I can draw up an outline to tell me what I think should be included. In this example, I will use proposed numbers of words, to tell me how much I think I should write.

First Try


Introduction - 500 words

Gaining Followers - 500 words

Using Tools - 500 words

Improving Skills - 500 words

Summary - 200 words


Now that's almost formulaic, that is, it just flows because I have done a lot of those kinds of outline in the past. It gives me a structure (beginning, middle, end) and tells me that I might write an article of 2,200 words! It's not useful for much else yet, though but it has started to cover the blank sheet of paper. I have no idea of how to write 500 words in an introduction to Twitter, though, so let's break it down a bit more. If you are writing it on paper, leave space between the lines, so you can add more.

(c) me MegL created using CraftArtist2 by Serif

Second Try

Now I need to go through and break each of those sections down into smaller bits. For instance, my introduction might start with "What is social media?", "Why is Twitter social Media?", "Why is Social media important?, and "Why do I need backlinks"? . This should be indented a bit under the main heading, just to show that it is all part of the main section, "Introduction".

So it might look like this:

Introduction - 500 words

What is social media? 100 words

Why is Twitter social Media? 100 words

Why is Social media important? 100 words

Why do I need backlinks"? 100 words

I would then go on to do the rest this way.

(c) me MegL created using CraftArtist2 by Serif


You may notice that the number of words in my smaller sections adds up only to 400 words, not the 500 words I initially thought. OK. I might add another section, or I might write more words in one of the sections or I might just stick at 400 words.


Now that I have done the outline, (assuming I finished it all), I just need to write 100 words on "What is Social media". let's see: Social media (there's 2 words) refers to sites and blogs that allow people to write and comment on any subject and to interact with other people on the subject. (There's 26 words and now I have a quick look on the internet to see if I have missed anything or if I can find a bit more to add - maybe add in a bit more about communities) in communities that are co-creating and sharing content in a virtual environment, that is, online on the internet. The introduction of social media means that people are no longer passively viewing someone's web site and taking in information with which they may agree or disagree but that they also have to ability to comment, amend or create their own content without having to be an internet "whizz". (That's about 93 words - ok, close enough to 100 - I'll leave it there).

Using an Outline

People writing academic articles or writing essays for school are encouraged to plan out their essay, to ensure it has a logical order. Using short "reminders" of what should go in each section saves time and also motivates you to start writing because you have a small section to write and a target number of words.

Where's the Mess?

Once you have written up the outline and created the content that goes with it, you may well find that you need to add more in, or you find more information or you need a section that hasn't been included. There's a later tip that will help you move from what you have written (and maybe the mess it has become) to a logical flowing article.

Image Credit » My own creation (c) MegL created with CraftArtist2 by Serif

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melody23 wrote on September 16, 2014, 4:56 PM

This is how I write my uni essays but I never thought to try it for non-academic writing. Its a great idea though and I will definitely give it a go. I tend to jot down random ideas that may or may not be helpful when it comes to writing the actual article.

MegL wrote on September 16, 2014, 5:25 PM

I will be covering the use of random ideas in a later article.

Feisty56 wrote on September 16, 2014, 6:54 PM

I love this idea! I may be one of the few people who really enjoys creating outlines. lol I'm going to give this method a try -- thanks for the idea.

AliCanary wrote on September 17, 2014, 12:16 AM

This is more organized than the approach I use, which is to write individual paragraphs of the ideas that strike me, and then organize them in a coherent order and fill in around them, instead of worrying about starting from the beginning and writing in a linear fashion to the end, which sometimes causes writer's block when you are stuck for a transition. Skip it and come back later, I say!

suffolkjason wrote on September 17, 2014, 2:29 AM

This is very useful and very easy to read and understand. I love your writing style.

MegL wrote on September 17, 2014, 2:54 AM

I will be covering this approach in a later article.

MegL wrote on September 17, 2014, 2:54 AM

Thank you very much, that's very kind.

aolo wrote on September 17, 2014, 3:45 AM

I just think of a title and start doing the writing without any plan....just figure out stuff as I go

MegL wrote on September 17, 2014, 4:49 AM

Yes, I do that too but if I have to put it in as an essay or paper, THEN I have to sort it out and that's what the later articles will cover

Bethany1202 wrote on September 17, 2014, 4:10 PM

I used to plan ahead when writing but not so much any more, thanks for presenting your organization tips and such. Have a great day.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 12, 2014, 4:20 PM

I am a firm believer in the pre-writing process. I love how you've broken it down so folks can see it's not so difficult to do at all :)

HappyLady wrote on July 17, 2015, 5:34 PM

Great post and well illustrated verbally and in picture. I usually have an outline in my head, but have to write a paragraph or two before I get an idea of where I am going and can create an outline.