For days I’ve been struggling with a piece I’m writing. I just can’t make it work. I’m actually a bit flabbergasted by this because the subject matter is one I know better than almost anyone. Should be a piece of cake.
Today as I struggled with it, I found myself pondering whether to include this detail or that, in which direction I should take it, and WHY IS IT SO HARD?!
It suddenly occurred to me that trying to decide which direction to go 300 words into the article was a huge red flag. No wonder I was having trouble: I hadn’t done my homework. I may have a vast repertoire of facts and anecdotes at my disposal, but where is my outline? Where is the pre-work that lays out my plan step by step? It’s like trying to put together one jigsaw puzzle using pieces from ten puzzles. I need to identify the correct pieces first and then try to put them together.
Now I’m up against a deadline, and I’m tempted to plow ahead anyway. After all, I’m almost halfway there; why stop now?
Thankfully, I know that from experience that is exactly the wrong approach. It will take me twice as long to write the article in this manner as it will to stop, organize my thoughts, make an outline, and begin again. I need a road map. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going,
…any road will take you there,
…you might end up somewhere else,
…you might not get there, or
…you can’t tell when you’ve arrived.