Does Your Blog Post Writing Involve an Outline?

There’s more than one way to accomplish your blog post writing, and for many, it always begins with an outline. Mine is a bit different.

One of the things I like most about blogging is that while there are general concepts that tend to work for most people, there’s almost always some variation that might work better for you.

A great example of this fact is in the process for blog post writing.

Some people insist they can only write a blog post after first outlining the major points of the post. As you can probably guess, outlines vary from writer to writer: some are less detailed, just focusing on the main points, while others are very detailed, spelling out not only the main points but the individual components that will help them make those larger points.

In other writing projects, I’ve tried the outline process. Sometimes it’s helpful; for blog post writing, I find that it can be a bit more tedious than I prefer.

I listened recently to a ProBlogger podcast that discussed outlining (among many other topics) with guest Kelly Exeter. Click here to listen to that podcast in its entirety at their site.

When it comes to creating content, Exeter said she used to outline, but has since switched to what she calls “free writing:”

When I say free write, I’ve got the idea, I sit down, I put the timer on for 15 minutes, I start writing, and I don’t stop even if I have to write, “I don’t know what to write here.” That’s what I wrote.

This sounds to me like the old writing adage that you should write every day no matter what. I’ve written about my feelings on that piece of advice several times in the past. To put it mildly, I’m not a fan of that kind of advice.

And while Exeter’s “free writing” may work quite well for her, it would stop me cold.

If I set myself a goal time — like her 15 minutes, for example — and I’d run out of things to say at the 10-minute mark, I’d do one of two things: I’d either move on to a different post and try writing that or I’d just get up and walk away from the computer and do something else around the house.

Writing “I don’t know what to write here” because I don’t know what to write but am, nonetheless, forcing myself to write something, even if it’s of no value whatsoever, would probably be more likely to toss the topic altogether.

But again, if you’re the type for whom that strategy works well, do it!

Bloggers — especially newbie bloggers who seem to be far more susceptible to taking others’ advice too seriously — should always do what works for them, not what someone else insist can only work.

My blog post writing strategy is a bit different.

My way might not work for you at all, and if it wouldn’t, that’s perfectly okay!

When I have a topic I want to write about, I’ll generally come up with the overall big point first. For this post, that point, in case you haven’t guessed, is that “You have to write your blog posts in a way that works for you, not anyone else.” That may seem like common sense, but there are so many blogging gurus out there insisting it “must” be one way or the other way, that sometimes it’s actually refreshing to hear from someone else that it’s actually okay to dump advice that doesn’t work for you.

With the general idea and main point in mind, I write nothing.

I like to let the topic “simmer” in the back of my mind for a while. Sometimes, it might be an hour or so, and sometimes it might be a day or two. (That’s the beauty of trying to get a few days ahead on your blog writing so that you can actually take some time to think about what you want to say next.)

When I actually begin to write, I like to start with some kind of anecdote that will get my reader into the topic in what I hope is an entertaining way. I’ll then get to the problem that I see with the issue at hand. I’ll then try to lay out some common approaches to dealing with the problem. And then I’ll try to get to either my approach or what seems like the “common sense” approach that others ought to consider. (And sometimes, it’s the approach I ought to consider myself.)

That’s the general format of a lot of my blog posts…not all, but many.

If, in the middle of writing the post, I run out of things to say or I find that I hit a roadblock, I’ll save the draft and move it down on my editorial calendar: clearly, it isn’t ready to post, yet. It needs a bit more “simmering” before I can complete it.

But that’s okay. That means I’m putting more thought and planning into the post, and that rarely results in the post being worse than it would have been with less thought and planning.

Once I get through the post and I think it’s ready, that’s when I’ll save the draft again. Most of the time, I want to give it another look or two before I actually schedule it.

That’s how I tend to write, and that’s the best method I’ve found that works for my writing process.

Your mileage may vary. It almost certainly will. But if you have a better way that works for you, then you should embrace that method of yours and use it every day.

We’re not all the same. Sometimes, what works for some won’t work for you. And vice versa.

That’s true in blogging and in life itself, isn’t it?

What is your blog post writing process like? Do you outline, free-write or something in the middle?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.