Step 4 – Organize
One more thing you need to do before you start writing is to sequence your material. Determine what is most important. Subordinate less important ideas. And then place everything in a logical order, thereby creating a unified stream of thought.
A good way to start organizing is to:
1. Cluster related ideas
2. Place the clusters in order
3. Add missing elements and eliminate duplicates
4. Strive for unity
Cluster Related Ideas
Working with your mind map, cluster related ideas into groups. If working on paper, a chalkboard, or a dry-erase board, use lines and circles to connect related ideas. When using notes or cards, move the notes or cards into related groups.
Alternatively, transfer your ideas from your mind map to an Ishikawa diagram.
Place in Order
After you have grouped related concepts, determine what is most important and what is less important, and then determine the order that will best appeal to your readers. Decide where your message will start and where it will end, and then select what will follow the start or what will immediately precede the last idea.
Number the major ideas 1, 2, 3, etc., and number the subordinate concepts: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. Continue until you have included every concept.
Fill in Holes and Eliminate Duplication
As you proceed, consider what might be missing. Have you answered who, what, when, where, why, to whom, and how? Are portions of your message unsupported? If so, fill in those lapses.
Also, look for duplication and eliminate redundancies.
Next, ask yourself if you have the right amount of material. If you have too much, consider what is of minor importance and eliminate it. If you do not have enough, determine what details you should add.
Strive for Unity
Each document should focus on one big idea. Do this by revisiting your plan and determining if the parts contribute to the theme. A well-constructed outline is like a human skeleton—every bone has a purpose, links to another bone, and creates a framework that supports a living human being.