Must you bollocks. Fast Company has a good feature on creative discipline, this business of creating things in the haphazard crazy way we do but simultaneously being focused and actually finishing things. I like a huge amount of the piece but its thing about must, must, must outline is making me twitch.
I do use outlines on certain jobs – I’m contractually required to often enough and there are times when it is definitely a quick route to a goal, just not necessarily the best one. I’m pretty much as addicted to OmniOutliner as I am to its sister app OmniFocus but I use it with care, I use it with wariness. Because exploring on the page, writing something to see where it goes and being willing to throw it away afterwards is still what I believe to be right for me.
See what you think:
Outlines are the tool of fast and productive writers. They help you say what you want to say, before you’ve figured out what it’s going to sound like or you’ve wasted time and energy writing about the wrong things. Outlines help you see if your plot makes sense, if your arguments stand up, or if your blog post is going in the right direction.
Before you start your next writing project, take five minutes to create a writing outline. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, break it into five or six sections and an introduction and a conclusion. Each section should contain three to five bullet points corresponding to a point you want to make. If you’re writing a book, write an outline for each chapter using headings and bullet points. For larger projects, write your outline on index cards. Laying these out on your desk or on a wall will give you a visual overview of your work that you can rearrange.
I like that he’s clear about what it does, I’m not keen on the certainty behind it. But he has other advice that I’m less precious or prejudiced against, so do read the full piece.