Thoughts on outlining

Question: Should you use a computer for all stages of the writing process or are you actually writing stuff out by hand somewhere along the line?

Answer: Whatever Works For You.

My handwriting is pretty poor. I have had trouble reading my own handwriting an hour after I’ve written a note. I once went crazy over an errand list because I couldn’t figure out what “elim” stood for, only to realize that evening that I’d written “Gym” and it looked so scribbly that I couldn’t read it.

Even if I could read my writing, though, it drives me crazy how slow it is compared to typing. I found out when I was learning Morse code in the early 80s for my ham radio license that people print at ~10-12wpm and write cursive at speeds up to 25wpm. I haven’t been able to write cursive for decades, so I’m stuck with printing when I write by hand. But it’s slooooooow. By comparison, I type at 120-130wpm, so it’s a huge difference in the throughput rates that’s very frustrating.

I’ll use handwriting for some things. For example, when I’m creating my book outlines, I do basic mindmapping (I’ll talk about mindmapping in an article soon) to create the initial outline, but I then start plugging that into the computer and things stay online forevermore. The other place I tend to do things manually is when I hit a snag in outlining: I’ll print the outline in its current form and mark it up. The most recent book required a lot of juggling to get the outline to where I wanted and I went so far as to print the outline and then attack it with scissors and tape to make sense of it. It broke the logjam, but that’s as close as I get to a manual process again.

But whatever works for you, do it. As long as you’re meeting your deadlines and selling stuff, it doesn’t matter if you’re writing everything by on a quad core PC or by hand on yellow tablets.

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