I have always taught a two step outlining process. It is a system I cobbled together based on two things I learned probably 5 years apart in school, each of which serves a different function for my ADHD brain and weren’t particularly helpful on their own. But, when put together they formed a system that compensated for my executive function deficits and allowed me to start leaning how to be a good writer. I’m going to take you through the whole process and explain why it works. But, with mind mapping software that is good enough, you can get it down to almost a one step process that saves even more time.
So, remember that the goal is to separate the writing from the organizing. I was taught to make a “spidergram” around 4th grade. It is essentially a prehistoric Mind Map. We would draw circles on the paper each with an idea in them. Then we would connect the circles in some meaningful way. We were then supposed to be able to translate that into a writing assignment, probably a book report at that point. I liked getting my ideas out on paper. But I never felt that it helped with my organization because the paper just looked like the mess that I felt was already in my head.
In high school I learned how to make a standard (Harvard style) outline. You know the one that starts with roman numerals, then indents to capital letters, then number, etc. This is how I was taught to take notes. (Which mostly worked in classes where the teacher’s presentation was organized and linear.) It is still how I take notes, more or less. But it didn’t help me write a paper. Because the amount of organization that needed to happen in my head to get my thoughts to come out in the right order was no more feasible for writing an outline that it was for a paper.
My next post will explain how I created my own system from these ideas.
My Blog Disclaimer: As a way to encourage myself to actually post entries, I have made a conscious decision not to go back and edit much, if at all. I do not apologize for any typos, grammatical errors, or things that could be better! Done & posted is always better than not done perfectly.