MAKING A PLAN – more examples


In Chapter 6, we suggested it is best to make a plan for most, if not all, writing tasks. We introduced some ways of doing this; mind maps (spider diagrams), flow diagrams, and lists using bullet points. Here we expand on the strategies we gave in 'Your Toolbox' to help you with your writing. 


Getting your ideas down

But what can you do when your ideas come very quickly and also at unpredictable times such as in the middle of the night? We gave you some ideas. Here we expand on these.

1.       Using a tape or digital recorder. Try capturing your ideas quickly using a recorder. This allows you to think and express your ideas without having to deal with the mechanics of writing. You can leave the tape in your recorder and record ideas as they come to you over the day or even several days. Let your ideas accumulate. Then go to steps 2 or 3.

2.     Using paper and pencil. You can capture your ideas directly onto paper by just jotting them down as they come to you.  Or you can transfer them from your tape.  Try doing this on a large sheet of paper or put each idea on a separate small sheet of paper or sticky notes.  Don't write much, just enough to remind you of the topic.

3.     Using a computer. If you like working on a computer and you are a reasonably good typist, you can pop your ideas straight down using your word processor.  Later you can use the cut and paste facilities to organise your ideas.

Think about using planning software (see Chapter 11) to capture your thoughts.  There are several different types that use similar ideas to using paper, pencil and notepads.  They also have other features to help you organise your thoughts.  You need to try them to see if they will work for you.  Most of this book was planned using Inspiration software - see useful software.


Getting your ideas sorted


In Chapter 6 we suggested several ways that you could organise your ideas.  It might be worth trying them all to find the one that suits you best.


We suggested that you used one of our blank diagrams to prompt you to put things down on paper and sort them out.   You can print one or more of the following to help you get started:


blank spider diagram

blank tree or flow diagram

blank bulleted list


Use whatever works best for you.  You don't have to follow these ideas like a slave.  Adapt them to suit you and the ways you think and work!


Here are some methods of organising your ideas


Diagram on organising ideas


The spider diagram – a kind of mind map

The spider diagram works best for people who think in pictures and who may not be too good at getting things in the right order first time.


Image - example of spider diagram


This is a completed spider diagram.  If you'd like to find out how we did this, click on Making a mind map.


A classic mind map

You can use the same technique to make the classic mind map shown below. You'll get more ideas from mind map books such as those written by Tony Buzan.


Mind map diagram



A tree or flow diagram – another kind of mind map


Tree or flow diagram


The tree diagram has a bit more structure to it than the spider diagram. The sub-topics are all on the same level and the sections of each sub-topic can be read across the page. Some people prefer to see more order in what they are doing. But you fill in the boxes in the same way as you would for the spider diagram. You may prefer to work sideways as in the following plan for the letter about recycling:


Sideways tree diagram


Planning by using a list

If you like lists and seeing things in order the list format may be best. Here is an example:


Letter to my MP about recycling rubbish


1. Intro

   - Gov. not doing enough


2. Amount of household rubbish

   - figures and stats

   - incinerators

   - number of landfill sites


3. Unnecessary packaging

   - increase

   - attitudes


4. Materials that can be recycled

   - paper/glass/metals/batteries


5. Conclusion

   - need proper policy


Don't forget that you will also need to think about what to put in your introduction and conclusion. Even a letter needs to have these, though they will probably be very short.

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