Writing your ideas down is a great way to share them with a large audience. However, putting your thoughts into words isn’t as easy as it may sound. When you talk to someone, you have the ability to use facial expressions, tone, and body language to get your point across. In addition, through conversation, there is often a shared understanding of the things that aren’t said.

That doesn’t happen in writing.

More often than not, you don’t even see your audience, which means you have no idea how they are interacting and/or reacting to your work. In writing, you have to make sure your ideas are conveyed clearly and concisely; otherwise, people won’t continue reading your writing. This may have you wondering how to organize your ideas in writing.

There is no right or wrong way to do this — which can be both good and bad. You have to find the method that works best for you. When asking how to organize writing projects, we’ve put together some steps that will help you through the process.

Tip | 1
You Need Something to Edit

When learning how to organize your ideas in writing, a lot of people become so concerned with making their first drafts perfect that they stress themselves out before they start to write. Don’t fall into this trap. Editing ensures you make your final document as perfect as possible, but you have to have something to edit.

How to Organize Your Ideas in Writing | Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

When learning how to organize thoughts for writing, the type of writing you’re doing will determine if any extra steps need to be added to the process below. In general, these are the steps you’ll need to consider when figuring out the best organizational strategy in writing that will work for you.

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Choose a Topic person thinking how to organize thoughts for writing

The first thing you’ll need to do when asking how to organize your ideas in writing is to figure out what you want to write about.

This may sound silly, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t have their topic or idea nailed down. Even if it’s something really broad, having a general idea is better than no idea, so choose something that interests you.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Brainstorm how to organize thoughts for writing

When learning how to organize your writing, after you have picked a topic, the next thing you want to do is brainstorm the things you know about this topic. At this point, your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, you can ignore the rules of grammar and formatting and just add the info to the page in any way you prefer.

You also want to write down whatever comes to mind, even if it seems ridiculous and uninteresting. You never know what will spark your muse, so include everything and anything during your brainstorming session.

There are many different ways to achieve this goal, including the following:

  • Create a List – Have your main idea at the top of your page, then create a list of all the things you know about that overall topic.
  • Free write – Set a timer for a certain amount of time (typically 5 to 10 minutes), and then start writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about proper sentence structure or if the writing makes sense, just keep writing until the timer goes off.
  • Mind Map – There are a variety of different ways to do this when wondering how to organize writing projects, but one of the easiest is to put your main topic in the middle of the page and put a shape (circle, square, star, etc.) around it. Then, write anything that comes to mind around the main topic and connect them with lines.
Tip | 2
Let the World be Your Inspiration

Since having an idea is the first step when learning how to organize your writing, finding topics anywhere you can will be beneficial. You don’t have to chain yourself to your office and your computer. Staring at a blank screen can be daunting and stressful. Getting out and exploring the world can open your eyes to the numerous writing topics that exist.

Step 3: Narrow Your Topic Down

a journal and a pen Narrow Your Topic Down how to organize your ideas in writing

When learning how to organize your ideas in writing, once you have done some brainstorming and dived deeper into your idea, you’ll then want to narrow your topic down.

Look at the different items on your paper and decide which one seems the most interesting to you. Pick that and get ready to move on.

Step 4: Figure Out Who Your Audience Is

Figure Out Who Your Audience Is organizational strategy in writing

Once you’ve narrowed down your topic, the next step when asking how to organize thoughts for writing is to determine who your audience is.

This is an incredibly important part of the process, and it will determine how you present your idea. Don’t think that you don’t have a particular audience in mind, because you do. If you didn’t want to share your ideas with others, you would place them in a journal — but that’s not what you’re doing.

You have to have a specific audience that you are writing to. You might think that everyone in the world should read your writing, but this is unrealistic. There’s no way you can cater to that many people, and your assessment is false. Not everyone wants to read what you write, but there are people who do. Who are they?

Step 5: Decide How to Present Your Ideas

Decide How to Present Your Ideas organizational strategy in writing

When learning how to organize your ideas in writing, once you know who your audience is, you can then determine the best way to present your topic to them.

This will depend on the type of writing you are doing. For example, if you are writing an essay, you’ll want to follow the typical formatting style, which includes the following:

  • An introductory paragraph, making sure your thesis statement is the last sentence
  • Body paragraphs, each with topic sentences that tie back into your thesis and let the reader know what you’re talking about in each paragraph
  • Conclusion, which includes a restatement of your thesis and summary of ideas

If you are writing a novel or short story when it comes to organizing thoughts for writing, there are different options you can choose from, including the following:

  • Chronological Order – This includes presenting the story in order of time, with the earliest happenings at the beginning of the story, going through until you make it to the end.
  • Climatic Order – When using this organization in writing, you will save the most exciting part of the story until close to the end (if not the end). You will build tension and suspense throughout the narrative, and then wow your reader and leave them with something to think about.
  • Logical Order – For this framework, you will consider what your reader needs to know at the beginning to understand what is happening at the end. The story may not be told chronologically, but it will still make sense and keep the reader entertained.
  • Spatial Order – When it comes to this organization strategy in writing, it is used to show your reader what is happening in a physical space. It can be used when describing the setting or using the five senses to draw the reader deeply into your ideas and narrative.
Q&A | 1
Why do some people use notecards to outline their writing?

Since having an idea is the first step when learning how to organize your writing, finding topics anywhere you can will be beneficial. You don’t have to chain yourself to your office and your computer. Staring at a blank screen can be daunting and stressful. Getting out and exploring the world can open your eyes to the numerous writing topics that exist.

Deciding Which Organization Strategy in Writing Is Best

When it comes to figuring out which organization in writing technique to use, one of the things you might consider is placing your ideas on index cards. When learning how to organize thoughts for writing, having your ideas on index cards makes it easier to move them around.

This can be particularly beneficial if you are wondering how to organize a book, as it will let you see the different options available. You’ll then be able to determine which one works best for your story and ideas so that your audience gets the most out of reading your work.

Step 6: Create an Outline

Create an Outline how to organize thoughts for writing

After determining which organizational strategy will work best for you, the next thing you should consider doing is creating an outline. This will help you break down your project on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, so you’ll know exactly what you want to talk about.

When it comes to learning how to organize your ideas in writing and using an outline, the more detailed you can make it, the easier it will be to transition the topics into fully formed paragraphs. Here’s a sample of how an outline should look:

I. This is one of the main topics that will be discussed in the essay, and your topic sentence should be written here.
A. This is some evidence that will be used to back up the claim you made in your topic sentence.
1. This would be a direct quote, summary or paraphrase from an outside source that is used to back up your evidence and claim in this paragraph.
B. This is more evidence to back up your topic sentence.
II. This is a new paragraph and topic sentence.
A. Evidence
1. Information from an outside source
B. Evidence

How many Roman numerals you have will depend on how many things you plan on talking about in your essay. The same is true for the letters and numbers beneath. As mentioned, the more detailed you can make your outline, the easier it will be to transfer your ideas into your final document.

Q&A | 2
What are some writing don’ts?

DON’T plagiarize. You’re smart, come up with your own ideas.

DON’T use exceedingly complicated words when simpler options will convey the same message.

DON’T get discouraged. Writing is a challenging process, but it can be overcome with determination and persistence.

Keeping Your Ideas Flowing

In addition to asking how to organize your ideas in writing, one of the other things that might concern you is coming up with ideas in the first place.

If you don’t have an initial topic that you want to explore, then learning about organization in writing seems unnecessary — mainly because you’ll have nothing to write about. Thankfully, there are millions of different places where ideas can come from, including the world around you.

When it comes to keeping your ideas flowing and avoiding the dreaded writer’s block, there are some things you need to consider doing, including the following:

Don’t Limit Your Ideas

a lightbulb Don’t Limit Your Ideas how to organize your ideas in writing

This might seem like an obvious solution, but you’d be surprised at how many people won’t write an idea down because they think it’s silly.

During the initial writing phases, don’t judge any of the ideas that come to your mind. Put them all down and come back to them later. Seriously, you never know which idea is going to spark something in you and get the writing juices flowing.

Write Things Down by Hand

If you’re like most people, you use technology for practically everything — including your writing. While this can be beneficial (especially when it comes to your final document), when it comes to organizing thoughts for writing, consider writing everything down by hand using a pen/pencil and a piece of paper.

Studies have shown that when you write something by hand, your brain interacts with the information differently than when typing things out. Handwriting can improve your memory and help you learn new topics better. It can also help you break out of your writer’s block and find a great idea to write about.

Get Outside

a cartoon of a person and a tree Get Outside how to organize your ideas in writing

Getting outside in nature not only helps clear your brain, but it can also help you find things to write about. As you move, the blood will pump through your body, making your brain work more efficiently, allowing thoughts to occur more freely.

In addition, you’ll be exposed to a variety of different stimuli. If you pay attention, you may overhear an interesting conversation, or see something strange. Maybe you’ll smell something that brings back a memory from childhood. Perhaps an animal running around your neighborhood makes you laugh.

Any of these can inspire ideas and give you something to write about.

Q&A | 3
How do I structure my thoughts?

When it comes to structuring your thoughts, consider using some of the brainstorming techniques and the steps we’ve listed above.

Why Organizing Your Thoughts for Writing Is so Important

Knowing how to organize your ideas in writing is essential when it comes to creating reading material for an audience. The reasons why include the following:

To Stay Focused

If you don’t have a set organizational strategy in writing, your ideas will jump all over the place. Your paragraphs could skip from one topic to another, without any of them supporting your thesis (in an essay) or theme (in a story).

By taking the time to organize your ideas, your essay or book will stay focused on a topic.

To Keep Your Readers from Getting Confused

This idea ties into the first. If your paper is jumping around from topic to topic, your reader is not going to know what’s going on. By learning how to organize your ideas in writing, and knowing who your audience is, you’ll be able to present your information in a clear and concise manner that will hopefully teach your readers something new.

To Show Off Your Skills and Abilities

Being able to convey ideas through writing isn’t something we’re born with; it’s a skill we have to learn. When you know how to organize your ideas in writing and present them appropriately, you get to show others that you know what you’re doing and are skilled at conveying ideas to others.

Q&A | 4
How do I train myself to be organized?

As with learning any new trait or behavior, consistency is key.

Putting Your Ideas on the Page

It doesn’t matter if you’re wondering how to organize a book, essay, or another form of writing, the final product should be something that engages your reader and keeps them informed and/or entertained. When it comes to asking how to organize your ideas in writing, these are the steps you’ll want to follow:

  • Choose a Topic
  • Brainstorm
  • Narrow Your Topic Down
  • Figure Out Who Your Audience Is
  • Decide How to Present Your Ideas
  • Create an Outline

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support Clever Sequence

Latest Guides