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Write in point form to break through a block

Writing in point form

There are times when you just can’t write. It’s not writer’s block, but something just as bad. The words are in your head but they come out … well, not in the way that you want them to.

That’s been happening with me lately, with my latest ebook project. I’m engaged in the subject, have a solid outline, and the ideas are in my head. But when I try to type them out, no amount of rewriting or editing brings the words together in the way that I want them to.

While trying to overcome this obstacle, I rediscovered a technique that worked for me in the past: writing in point form. Doing that gets the ideas and words out of my head and about 85% of the way to where I want them to be.

Let me share this technique with you.

Start with an outline

If you’ve been reading this space for any amount of time, you know that I advise creating an outline before starting any writing project. If you’re going to write in point form, then an outline is the obvious place to start.

An outline to helps focus your writing, and provide a basis for the structure of your work. When writing in point form, you’ll need to take your outline a little further.

Move on to a blank page

Writing in point form is the middle ground between an outline and fully-formed sentences and paragraphs. Each point is (or, at least, can be) longer than a point in an outline. Those points provide something that’s slightly more than the skeleton of what you intend to write.

You can write points for each paragraph, or even just each sentence in a paragraph. I tend to do a mix of both. Some portions of what I write need more detail, so I opt to write points for each sentence. Sometimes, a point sums up a paragraph.

In that way, writing in point form differs from writing in bullets. Bullet points are generally short sentence fragments. They’re meant to stay fragmentary.

When writing in point form, you’re still writing in sentence fragments. Those fragments can be short or long. I tend to mix them up.

The sentence fragments that you write are your starting point. They’re meant to be fleshed out. But their immediate purpose is to get something on the page. Nothing more, nothing less.

So how does that break through a block?

Once you have all the points on the page, you’ll start to see how everything is supposed to read and supposed to fit together. I’ve found that the jumble of words that comes out in some circumstances starts to take a tangible form. My mind fills in the gaps, and what I’m seeing is close to what I intended.

From there, you can begin filling in those gaps on the actual page. The fragments become sentences which become paragraphs, which soon morph into a coherent whole.

To be honest, I haven’t used this technique in a number of years. If only because I haven’t had the need to. But dredging the technique up has been useful. And it’s definitely going to stay in my writer’s toolkit.

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