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How To Write an Article Quickly with an Outline
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How do you start writing an article? 

Do you:

A. Just sit down and start writing

B. Make a few notes, then write

C. Create a full-blown outline to work from

D. Use a previously written piece of content as an "outline" for a re-worked article

I have experimented with all of these methods, but I find that I can write a quality article the speediest when I take the time on the front end to create an outline (options C & D).

Now, I'm not talking about one of those cumbersome and intimidating outlines we did in school when we were kids–you know, the ones where you had Roman numeral I, II, III, IV, etc, and then points A, B, C, and then sub-points a, b, c.

No, no, no, no, no–that is not where we're going with this (thankfully! :-) )

This is a very simple and useful outline created simply for your benefit (with no formality involved) that will allow you to shave time off of your overall writing time.

Here's how you do it:

1) What is your topic?

Most of the time you'll have a general idea of what you'd like to write about when you sit down (or you can use my method for planning out an article writing schedule where you have pre-brainstormed topics for your articles)

Obviously before you can make any sort of outline at all, you need to know what you'll be talking about in your article (duh, right? :-) )

2) Jot, then write. 

 It's very tempting to try to launch into the first paragraph of an article from the get-go, but I find that jotting down specific points I'd like to make in the article is more effective for me than trying to write out whole paragraphs at the beginning. 

I jot, then I write. 

These are just quick notes–no need to even write in complete sentences. I think that as you start jotting down ideas you will start to feel some momentum build–as you get an idea the next idea just rolls off of the previous one.

3)  Make a list and arrange it in order.

I like to do "how to" list posts and Top 5 (7, 10–whatever) lists, so getting all my basic points down beforehand helps me a lot. It saves me time because I don't accidentally spend time trying to cover multiple points that would eventually need to be broken down into different sections anyway.

It also saves me from trying to cover too much information in one article.

Have you ever been writing an article, and then before you know it you're on your way to something that looks like a doctoral thesis?

I've been there!

And I just think, "Whoa, this article has gotten away from me–this is probably 3 or 4 articles rather than one!"

Well, making a list and arranging it in order helps to keep some reigns on your ambition for what you'd like to accomplish in an article.

If you're coming up with 20 points to cover, then that's a good heads-up that you might be overloading the article with content. Then you can pick your main points from the 20 you've written down and save the remaining points for other articles. 

Arranging the list in order is like making written out directions for a road trip–First go here, then turn left here, then stop at the railroad tracks and take a right. 

Having an order to follow helps you article get off to a cohesive start, which will save you editing time at the end.

4)  When your list (outline) is complete, then flesh it out!

I like to do a rough draft first–put a minimal amount of information for each list point. This helps me keep my word count under control–I usually aim for 700-800 words, and by doing a rough draft I can see where I can afford to explain a little more in depth, or where I might need to chop something out. 

Re-read your article after your first draft is complete and do a word count. 

Make adjustments for adding or taking away content based on how the article reads and the word count. 

Here's more info on writing an article in 700-800 words

5) An even easier way…

An alternative to creating an outline is using an article-worthy piece of content from your blog or website or e-book as a launching point for a re-worked article. 

When I am writing an article based off of a previous blog post, it never ceases to amaze me at how fast I finish the article. The original blog post acts like an outline for me, and so that saves me the step of crafting an outline from scratch.

Here's more info on How To Turn A Blog Post Into A Free Reprint Article


Yes, it is an extra step to write an outline, but I think it saves time overall–it's sort of like taking the time to plan out a road trip on a map before actually getting in the car.

That way you can just hop behind the wheel, crank the engine, and start driving on your pre-defined path knowing before hand which way to turn and what to expect along the way. 

How about you–how do you start writing an article? 

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

9 Responses to “How To Write an Article Quickly with an Outline”

  1. I’ll almost always start with an outline as you suggest.

    Not only does it help me get the article done quickly but it also has a few added advantages:

    1. It organises my thoughts, leading to a more logical and reasoned article

    2. It lends itself to creating multiple versions – online articles, blog posts, print articles and special reports can all come from one good outline.

    3. It suggests new topics for future articles. Almost without exception when I create a bullet point article outline, each bullet point could become an article – or at least a blog post – in itself.

    In fact, this comment is suggesting an article outline right now …..

  2. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, I totally agree–creating an outline or list of bullet points helps organize our brains and also stimulates ideas!

    Thanks so much for chiming in :-)

  3. Hi Steve,

    I have used all of the above points to write articles. It depends on the vibe that I’m in.

    I might just get an idea from reading something. This could be a book, email newsletter, watching a movie or just something that is fresh in my mind.

    Normally, in these cases I would just start writing and the information would just keep flowing. Unfortunately, this does not happen as often as we would wish.

    Points C & D above tends to be the most effective ways, although I tend to use D more that C. I’m kinda lazy, so I tend to go with some previously written content for my outline.

    I am always adding ideas to my notepad. Arranging them in categories helps. This way when I’m writing on a specific topic I can get some bullet points from that.

    As always Steve your tips are Right On!



  4. Qura-tul-Ain says:


    The article was helpful indeed.



  5. Darren says:

    that will make things quicker thanks

  6. [...] Writing from an outline is a great strategy for any length of article, but especially for a shorter article where you really need to stay focused. Here’s what I do: [...]

  7. Ricardo A. says:

    He-he-he … reading this was both enlightening and embarrassing for me.

    I basically just sit down and start writing with a general idea in mind. Then I go off on some points and find out later that the article has gotten away from me.

    I end up editing and re-working the article. I go from step A to D, skipping B and C, much to my disadvantage.

    Thanks for showing a better way!

  8. [...] I always come up with an informal outline before I really start writing–I think that makes things progress [...]

  9. [...] I find it infinitely helpful to create an informal outline before getting started writing. I get my main points down on paper, then I flesh things [...]

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