How to Organize Your Thoughts on Paper

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Are you getting confused with the clutter in your mind? It can be hard to collect your thoughts into a productive day. Writing down your ideas on paper may help you make sense of what’s jumping around your head.

  1. Start with your research. If you’re working on a college project, this will mean reading the necessary books and articles. If you’re working on a problem that is close to your heart, this might just mean asking yourself or someone who is close to you for their views. In any case, make sure you’re relying on credible sources (friends can be a trustworthy source for a personal problem) and not relying too heavily on any ‘single’ sources.
  2. Write without a destination. Freewriting can be a handy tool for determining what you think of where you stand on an argument. Freewriting simply means capturing your thoughts down on paper without concerning yourself with structure, sense, or even grammar.
  3. Describe your categories and define subcategories. This is important for capturing your ideas. Categories can be any kind, including evidence and sub-points for the main events of a novel or an academic paper. 
  4. Choose a way to order your categories. This will help you get a taste of the whole structure of your ideas. There is no correct way to order your ideas, as long as the sequence is useful or logical for you. For most structures, it is best to limit the number of major categories to three or four, particularly for a shorter or less complex task.
  5. Pen down your main point at the top of the paper. If you are scripting an academic or research paper, this will be your central thesis or argument statement. For a novel/non-fiction ebook, it will be the main plot. 
  6. Start writing and create multiple drafts. You may want to draft the lists more than once, depending on how complicated your project is. Sometimes you may even want to put one list away, re-write the list from memory, and then bring the earlier one back to see how you’ve structured it differently.
  7. Make a visual organizer or mind map. Mind maps let you put your thoughts on paper in a highly visible way. Begin with a big piece of paper or a new poster board. The size differs based on how active the project is. 
  8. Write your idea or them in a circle in the center of the poster or paper board. Please make sure the penned circle is big enough to stand out from the subtopics but not so big that you don’t have much room to write your thoughts around it. Draw lines leading from the circle, and pen the ideas that stem from the central idea. 
  9. Draw lines leading from the main lines to show subtopics. If you want to get detailed with your topic, you may wish to trace lines from the subtopics and write specifications about the subtopics. 

Now You Know

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