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You discover what you’re going to say through the process of writing.The flat outline gives you just enough structure to overcome the dreaded “blank canvas” while still leaving room for discovery.Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.
I never created an outline with bullets and numbers and letters before writing the paper.
I always just made one up afterwards because I was to turn one in with the final paper.
Remember: asking for clarification because you don’t understand the assignment doesn’t make you stupid; what’s stupid is to complete the assignment without understanding it.
Yet, when I was an English TA in college, I saw this problem all the time.
As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.
In Cal’s words, the flat outline works as follows: Isn’t this so much better?
“One more source” can easily turn into hours that you could have been writing.
To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.
For a full guide to creating a distraction-free study space, check out our article on the topic.
In the meantime, here’s a summary of the best practices: Each paper you write should not feel like reinventing the wheel.