Always make an outline before you start writing?

Isn’t that what your fifth-grade teacher told you? Well, I’m sorry to break this to you, but Miss Whitebread was wrong. This is one of those “stupid things we were taught in school,” so let me deconstruct this bad boy.

To begin, it is impossible to make an outline before we start. How can we outline something when we don’t even know what we want to say, haven’t started thinking about what we want to say, or don’t have any research or notes on what we want to say? We can’t. Plain and simple.

Thinking is a messy business. We start with random, maybe disconnected ideas, facts, opinions, and, yes, feelings. Perhaps we have a general notion, but that’s about it. 

from “Write Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality” by Andrew T. Le Peau, Intervarsity Press