This is how it's gonna end
Think. Write. Lead. - Issue #66. Putting bookends to your creativity can actually make it better.
This is the fifth installment in a 7-part series about the neurobiology of thought leadership. Catch up here:
Before I started writing my first novel, I knew what the last line was going to be.
I knew how I wanted the story to end.
All I had to do was write all the stuff to get there.
And the way I did it was to work with a rough outline of big events.
You see, there are two types of writers: Outliners and seat-of-your-pants writers.
But there's actually a third type: The love child of the first two. And I'm one of them.
Outliners plan every little detail before they start writing and follow the plan to the tee.
Seat-of-your-pants writers wing their way through their manuscripts, adventuring in all directions.
I like to do a bit of both.
And now I realize that's good, according to science.
According to the Green Eggs and Ham hypothesis, constraints facilitate creativity. A study at Rider University tested the hypothesis with two groups like this:
Group 1 was given 8 nouns and asked to use them to write rhyming couplets.
Group 2 was asked to write the rhymes without constraints.
Interestingly, group 1 outperformed group 2 when judged by a panel of experts.
This goes to show, that some limits are actually good to stimulate your brain to come up with creative ideas. Although as we saw last week, freewriting can also activate your ACC.
For instance, whether writing fiction or nonfiction, having a simple outline helps me know where I'm going and head in that direction.
For example, I know where I want my character to be at the end of the chapter or be clear about the points I want to make in my business book.
But it's fun to just put my character in a new situation and see how he would react.
It's also worth letting my thoughts flow unhindered outside the limits of the original outline, sometimes.
Start with a plan, but let new ideas emerge as you write.
Rather than always taking your reader from point A to B in a straight line, surprise her with a delightful detour every now and then.
Because great writing is more like horseback riding in nature than a subway train ride.
What kind of writer are you (seat-of-your-pants or outliner)?
How can you incorporate the best of both worlds in your routine?
Next time you sit down to write something, plan beforehand your beginning and your ending.
How are you going to open the post/article/book?
How is it going to end? Where do you want to take your reader to?
Writing like a thought leader means leading your readers to a new way of thinking, showing them a new POV or framework.
That's why knowing what that goal is (that ending) is vital... it will determine how you write the rest of the piece.
Is it going to be a surprise ending? Then withhold some information at the beginning to create suspense.
Is it going to be a logical ending? Then build your case step by step throughout the piece.
Do you want to move the reader to action? Build up emotion and finish with a strong CTA.
Write with purpose and determination. Outline your writing, but not too much.
Thanks for reading Think. Write. Lead.! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.