Use a Prewriting Checklist to Make Sure Your Organization Is Solid

Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure….”~Atul Gawande

Checklist Prewriting Organization   Who doesn’t love a list? Well, lots of people, but forget about them for a minute…and if you’re one of them, pretend for a minute that you like them. When you’re preparing to write—whether it’s a course, a book, a report, or what-have-you—the hardest work is what you do before you write. That’s the prewriting organization. It’s also the work with the biggest pay-off.

I’ve been talking about this topic for a couple of weeks, and I want to wrap up the series with a checklist. Even if you’re an expert writer, the reminders can’t hurt. They’ll keep you on track as you go through the steps. I have a checklist at the top of my blog template, and I’ve been surprised by how many times it has reminded me to do something critical.

Pre-Writing Organization Checklist

❏  I have identified my subject.

❏  I have identified my slant on the subject.

❏  I have stated my one core idea in a single, focused sentence.

❏  I have identified topics that are within the scope of my one core idea.

❏  I have identified and eliminated topics that are outside the scope of my one core idea.

❏  I have clustered my topics around main ideas that support the one core idea.

❏  I have stated each main idea as a single, focused sentence.

❏  I have arranged all the main idea sentences in a logical sequence that provides a definite beginning, middle, and end (introduction, body, and conclusion).

❏  I have arranged the topics under each main idea so that the hierarchy of ideas is clear (most important to least important; broadest statement to smallest supporting detail).

❏  I have checked that the main ideas and topics truly support my one core idea.

❏  I have revised the core idea and/or topics if needed due to lack of alignment.

❏  I have checked that my one core idea is narrow enough to be developed in a project this length.

❏  I have revised my one core idea and/or topics if needed.

❏  The statement for my final, main idea brings my content back to my one core idea in a new way.

And that’s it! Follow these steps and writing your first draft will be easier, faster, and more on target. Let me know if the checklist helps or if you think I need to add any items.

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Please send me your questions for future issues, and tune in next Friday for Issue #34 of “Everything You Need to Know to Create Outstanding Online Courses.”

Contact Marcy for help crafting your online course:

Marcy McDonald is an Online Course Producer. She helps Subject Matter Experts and Professors create online courses with better content, delivery, and production, for better teaching. She’s developed ~450 online courses for lifelong learners, worked in video and audio studios, and filmed in the field (literally).

Want to learn how to make online courses that teach outstanding content well? Sign up for your free copy of “12 Steps to Killer Course Content” and weekly tips, click here.

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