I’ve written two books, six ebooks and hundreds of articles. The most difficult thing about writing isn’t generating new ideas – it’s wrangling them into coherent order.
Organizing ideas is a challenge for my clients, too. The content for a book can feel unwieldy. This sense of chaos leads to despair and can make my clients want to give up.
Some advocate the outline form, but this is often too linear to be useful. My clients are often visual thinkers, so an outline just puts them to sleep and brings out their perfectionist, who insists that everything be all nice and tidy and figured out before they start writing.
I offer a simple method to make order from the chaos and keep you engaged with your material.
Index cards to the rescue
If you’re writing a book – fiction or non-fiction, try this. Place each idea or scene on its own index card. Feel free to use different colors for different themes or parts of the book.
My novel is set in Paris and in Denver. I used different colors for each location, and when I laid the cards out, this allowed me to see the arc of the story and to gauge the balance between the two parts.
The cards – some people use sticky notes – allow you to shuffle your ideas around. This ability to move scenes around is very helpful when you’re trying to map the whole book out.
One day, a client came to our coaching call with a ton of ideas and inspiration. But was overwhelmed and unsure about how to manage it all. I invited her to try the index card method for homework. This is what she had to say about it:
“I love the index cards. I can place my brain on them and walk away with room in my mind to form more questions and answers. It feels organic to my writing process. It allows my to escape fonts, software and written design. It frees me and embraces me all at once. Simply love it.” Brook
Try blocking out individual scenes for your book, e-book or long article. See how the non-linear method mirrors your non-linear thinking process and allows you to feel more in control of your abundant ideas.
How has this or a similar method helped you organize your content? Let us know in a comment below.