It doesn’t take magic to organize your writing

by Carl Natale on October 13, 2010

There’s an interesting glimpse into the mind of J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. Someone released an outline she made for several chapters of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

J.K. Rowling’s Plot Spreadsheet for ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’

Each row is a chapter with columns for timeline and subplots. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is somewhat complicated. Each book plot and subplot are steps in an overall series plot. That requires some sophisticated planning.

Why is this important? You’re trying to just eke out a blog post.

While you may have smaller ambitions, some sort of plot outline can benefit you. It doesn’t need to resemble the one above. Perhaps this will serve you better:




Which is fine. It’s fast and easy to create. And it will help you write your post – no matter how long it is.

My point is that any writer needs an outline template. Or maybe two. It depends on how much you write and the subject(s).

One more point. Rowling took an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of notebook paper and turned it sideways. She didn’t even bother to use a ruler to help her draw lines. And it’s all in one color ink.

She didn’t create a spreadsheet. Buy an outline app. Subscribe to a cloud-based project management service.

She took pen to paper and did it.

Sometimes our quests for tools get in the way of actually doing the work. So don’t be afraid to use paper if that works for you. Try sticky notes. Whiteboards if you want to save trees. Just write it.

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