Read the Whole Thing First
Take a few minutes to read through your entire outline from start to finish - even if you just finished writing it.
It’s good to give your brain a refresher on how everything is going to flow, where you’ll talk about what, and how your paper will present your argument. If you did just wrap up your outline, take a break before you review it. You would be surprised how much a little time away from your work can help you see it with fresh eyes.
This is also your opportunity to make any changes to your outline to help you write your first draft. It never hurts to give your work one last editorial glance.
Make a Copy
Having a copy of your outline may seem a bit redundant, but it can give you the freedom to make drastic changes without having to worry about losing your original work. Your copied outline can become your testing ground as you convert it into the beautiful prose of your first draft.
Some people enjoy working with a hard copy of their outline as they write. This lets them make notes, mark out the points they’ve made, and keep track of exactly where they’ve been. If you’ve made a topic outline, you may like this method.
Others benefit from copying their outline text directly into their word processor. That allows them to directly convert their outline into sentences and paragraphs without switching between documents. This method can be more beneficial if you made a sentence outline.
Start Wherever You Need
One of the great benefits of having a detailed outline is that it gives you the ability to start writing at almost any point of the paper. With enough detail, you don’t have to start at the introduction (often one of the more difficult sections to write). You can jump in with your first supporting argument or even halfway through your paper before coming back to the more difficult parts later. This can be a great way to help you get past any initial writer’s block.
Tip: If you do write your paper out of order, make sure you re-read the entire paper for flow once it is completed. You may end up adding a few transitional sentences to smooth out any rough spots.
It’s Just a Guide
When you start writing with an outline, never forget that it is meant to help you. If you find that your outline no longer makes sense once you start writing, feel free to change it so that your paper is as strong as possible. Even if you’ve submitted your outline to your teacher already, professors would rather read a strong paper that deviates from the previous outline than a weak paper that follows it.
There may even be times when you throw the whole thing out the window. While we don’t suggest doing this frequently, it can happen. Your outline is meant to help you create the best paper possible. If it isn’t doing that, then find a new way that fits your writing style best.