For a long time, I used to think I was clever due to the fact that whenever I sat down to write I referred to an outline that I already created. This would enable me to effectively puts words on paper whether I was lacking inspiration or not. This is an effective approach and I stand by it.
However, there are a few additional steps that can be taken to increase efficiency while promoting additional opportunity to input high-quality content.
For example, if you are starting a new chapter start by copy-pasting all the parts of your overall outline that fall within that particular chapter.
The next thing you want to do is look at each section of that outline and ask yourself a few guiding questions such as:
What additional instruction or details would help the information or story?
Is this typically offered in similar books or genres? If so, how can it be differentiated?
For non-fiction authors, is there a related, helpful anecdote or personal story that can be added?
For fiction authors, is there a further detail that can be offered to make it more authentic?
These guiding questions are just food for thought. Take some time as you reflect on your own writing to develop your own that trigger creativity.
As you answer these questions you should be writing your answers down within the relative section of your outline. The answers can come in the form of paragraphs or sentences to be included word for word, or short phrases that can be rearticulated at a later time. Once this stage is complete then instead of looking at a blank page tasked with the challenge of filling it, you’re now filling in a structured chapter outline.
To clarify let us break it down into nice and neat phases.
Phase 1: Copy-paste relative chapter outline from whole book outline.
Phase 2: Insert more input based on guiding questions previously mentioned and/or your own guiding questions.
Phase 3: Fill in the missing parts.
At the end of the day, you’re going to have sit down and write. There is no avoiding it. However, this is a much less daunting task when you’re adding to something as opposed starting a chapter from scratch.
If you’re still not convinced let us compare it to the construction of a house.
When contractors begin they do not start on the left and work their way to the right. Instead, they pour the foundation, construct the frame, then add the plumbing, wiring, drywall and so on.
To be fair, this is only a suggested approach. If you have a method that works for you once you get going then you may not need to use this. If, however, you are a person who struggles to make yourself sit down and write then you need to break it down into smaller, easier steps. The strategy offered here is one way to do it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, then do not quit, just continue to look for an alternative approach.
Leaders within this realm, that I look up to, are Joanna Penn, Steve Scott, and Tom Corson-Knowles. As a writer, you must make it your responsibility learn about different strategies used by a variety of authors.
Even when you have something that is working, if you notice your productivity is decreasing then utilizing the leaders above and any other resources you’re aware of to avoid the complacency that can come with dusty, old strategies.
To keep things practical and get back to the original point, I recommend you try each phase using Evernote. Within one “notebook” that holds all the content of your book, you can create “notes”. One note should be your overall book outline, then each other note should be a chapter.
This is a great, free way to easily navigate from book outline to a specific chapter rather than scanning through one large word document.
Evernote is certainly not the only option here, but it is recommended that you use a software that enables you to easily locate each chapter and your outline.
Okay, enough is enough. Happy writing!