Sneaking up on the first draft—part 2
I’m continuing to explore how to get drafts written more quickly as a way, if not to short-circuit the stress of writing, at least to manage it better. In my last post I recommended the Gigantic Outline. Today’s technique is from Robert Boice, whom I’ve mentioned in previous posts.
Boice recommends an approach he calls a conceptual or elaborated outline. Essentially, it’s a rough list of points with notes underneath to start fleshing them out. I’ve been doing some version of this on my own, already, forever—not worrying about the Roman numerals, just throwing ideas on the page in some tentative order. But what Boice brings to the party is:
• Each point gets not only a brief description, but also includes your questions, reservations, and even dialogue with yourself about how to treat the material. This means that instead of getting stuck when you run into doubts or concerns, you can incorporate those concerns into the process. You’re embracing the enemy instead of using up energy fighting with him. (My take, not Boice’s.)
• You can rewrite your outline—in fact, you’re expected to. You add detail, emphasize some points, de-emphasize others, move things around. As you include successively more information in each version, you get closer and closer to an actual draft, without having to take yourself officially in hand to Sit Down and Write.
• You proceed even when some points aren’t complete. Holes in outlines are a good thing, says Boice. I like that—anything that encourages me to move ahead imperfectly.
I’ve been noticing that the mere act of putting a dash or bullet point in front of an idea helps me lighten up a tiny bit. There’s something about The Draft that automatically makes me stiffen. When it feels more like a list, and less like a draft, it’s less daunting—the inner doomsayer doesn’t make quite as much noise.