IN A NEW PIECE at The New York Times, Matador staff writer Aaron Hamburger discusses how he stopped using traditional outlines in his writing process and evolved a system of outlining “in reverse” — that is, after the initial piece was written:
Over the course of my 17-year writing career, I began to give up on outlining — that is, before I write. I’ve come to prefer a more organic approach to creation, first laying out my raw material on the page, then searching for possible patterns that might emerge. But now, after I’ve completed a first draft, I compose an outline. I’ve found that this is the surest way to make sense of the work. I originally thought I was a genius for having invented reverse outlining, but I’ve since learned that many writers do this in some form or another.