Inspiration for Writers

Organize Your Thoughts . . . Before You Write

Georgia Shaffer
Georgia Shaffer

Georgia Shaffer from Pennsylvania

One mistake I repeatedly made early in my writing career, was, as I sat down to write an article, newsletter or a chapter in a book, I neglected to first take the time to organize my thoughts.

I ended up wasting lots of time writing and rewriting as I would try figure out where I was really going with my topic.

Before you begin to write, focus on how you will organize your ideas by answering the following questions:

Who is My Audience?

Part of narrowing your focus is defining your audience.  Are you writing for women ages 40 and above? Are you targeting mothers of pre-school children or men in leadership positions? 

By defining your audience, you can then tailor your stories and examples to a specific group such as parents, singles, college students, or life coaches.

What is Your Catchy Title or Headline?

Although you can start to write without having an attention grabbing title at first; I find it helps to begin to think about the title you will use.

A few years ago, I had a delayed flight and used the extra time to study the titles on the magazines covers in the airport book store. Reading other titles can help to trigger a great idea for you. Here are a few examples I read that day:

–       Too Busy to Live: How to Go from Swamped to Sane
–       Better with Age: 40 Ways to Get Healthier and Happier
–       Declutter Your Life: Saying Goodbye to the Emotions that Weigh you Down

Are You Going to Use a Metaphor?

If you are going to use a metaphor, weave it throughout your blog, article or book.  For example, if I am writing about our addictions with food, I will use words like hunger or starve vs. planting and cultivating.

In my book, Taking Out Your Emotional Trash, I used phrases like, “Dump your junk, before you trash your relationships.” Chapter titles included, “What Desires Need to Be Discarded?” and “Are You Recycling Your Anger?”

How Are You Going to Hook the Reader?

What opening or introduction will keep your audience’s attention?  You could use a question, quote, statistic, or begin with a story from your life and experiences.

What Are Your Key Points?

What are the main points you want your readers to take away?  In a chapter I wrote on handling the emotional clutter in our lives, I discussed: the costs of holding onto clutter; the different kinds of emotional clutter we accumulate; and the steps you can take to de-clutter your life.

Each point was expanded and supported with at least one story, from my life or others.  I also included references and strategies on how you can implement the suggestions into your everyday life.

What Will Give You a Strong Closing?

Are you going to end with a challenge for your readers? Will you summarize what you discussed?  Do you have a powerful quote that will bring everything together or even tie back to the beginning?

Organizing your ideas before you actually begin to write does take time. I remember spending days creating an outline for one chapter in a book I was working on.  Although I wanted to tell the reader everything I knew about the subject, I had learned the value of organizing my thoughts first.  Taking the time to distill my ideas not only saved me hours in the end but enabled me to be concise and clear on the message I wanted to communicate.

About Georgia Shaffer

12 Smart Choices for Finding the Right Guy by Georgia Shaffer
12 Smart Choices for Finding the Right Guy by Georgia Shaffer

Georgia is an author, Christian life coach, and licensed Psychologist in Pennsylvania. Her books include Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make; Taking Out Your Emotional Trash; and 12 Smart Choices for Finding the Right Guy. For more information on Georgia or on her coaching of authors and speakers, visit