The title might contain a bit of an anachronism as most people keep their first and final drafts on computers at all time. However, some sayings have staying power. “Put pen to paper” for example refers to when someone starts writing. However for any sufficient writing process requires more outlining than actual writing. It might seem odd but the longer something is the greater the proportion of time spent outlining is. One piece of advice for people committing to a big project is to consider writing on the walls.
Now clearly this doesn’t mean taking out a permanent marker and scrawling across the new wall paper. There are products you can invest in to make writing on the walls a safe process that doesn’t do permanent damage. There are multiple types of paints that apply a clear or solid white coat to the wall allowing one to write directly on the wall with a dry erase pen at ease. There are also paints to turn a portion of the wall to a chalk board. Another option is to use glued notes and string to visually tie points together. The point is that there are ways to write on the wall (including 8×11 paper and tape) to aid the outlining process.
Why is writing on the walls a benefit to outlining?
When you put something on the wall it’s passively there for you at all times, this means you can be reminded of things at ease. The other advantage is that the wall is a big surface (usually) and that allows you to spread things out and organize them. When you can see how things fit together all in one viewing it helps you see any flaws in your organization, or transitions between ideas.
It’s hard to properly build a large document or idea. Things have to intersect and add up in a logical fashion. If you’re working on a research project writing on the walls can allow you to insert all of your citations and information. That way you can see at a glance if you have one section that’s over built and might deserve to be the focus of the paper on its own, or if something’s under-built and in need of expansion and development. If you’ve got pages of outlines it can be hard to see how everything stacks up against each other. Writing on the walls can allow you to see how everything fits and works together, there’s also one small benefit that not many people are eager to admit but is fundamentally true. It’s fun to do and considering how long and slow a process outlining can be finding fun in it is an important task.