Oh, yeah! Outlines!

So - I'm working on this big article, working meaning letting my thoughts wander all around the various issues, and every now and then, I sit down to write. I have to let things percolate a bit; usually, I write stuff completely in my head, then I write it on paper. Or online.

Well, every time I've sat down to write, the words come at first, then, it's all over the place! It covers a lot of ground and a lot of thoughts, so I guess that's not surprising. But it is frustrating!! I want it to be cohesive, and I know I could write and write and then edit, but it starts just going places I never intended - I don't think I'd ever finish!

Last night, I realized: I can use an outline. I can use index cards. I can plan what I want to say. Go figure!! I haven't used that particular skill in ages! If ever - usually even in school when we were supposed to use an outline, I just let the paper flow, and I always got good grades. If we had to hand in outlines or index cards, I usually did the paper first, then filled out those things to appease the teacher. BUT - in this case, I can actually utilize the concept of an outline! It will be helpful to me. So, I can't say I didn't get anything out of school.

Although, what made me realize I could use an outline, was seeing Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic on my shelf. In that, he writes about exploring and researching drumming through time, and how he had to create what he called the Anaconda, thousands of index cards, a timeline to organize his thoughts and the history. So if I hadn't been exposed to the idea of outlines in school, would I have just picked it up from Mickey?

One thing that I have loved about unschooling, is that I honestly can't pinpoint where or when the boys have learned certain things. One day a couple years ago, Evan and I were walking the dog, and he started talking about all the varying theories about the creation of the world, what each theory said, what he thought about it all. I loved our talk, but what I loved most of all is that I had NO idea he had even taken that knowledge in anywhere. We had never talked about it before. He had certainly never taken out any library books about it. I believe it was information he picked up from all types of sources: cartoons, the internet, movies, magazines, TV, books, conversations he had. He never had to sit and study the origin of the world to learn about it! He took all these bits and pieces, synthesized them in his brain, and he then had this cohesive block of knowledge, and we had this amazing conversation.

So - do I (reluctantly) credit school with the idea of organizing a paper? Do I credit Mickey Hart? Or, actually, Francis Ford Coppola, from whom Mickey Hart picked up the idea?

You know what? I'll just write the damn thing. I'm burning to do it, and it's important, and will say something I find Deeply Meaningful. I'll be fulfilling my purpose to do it, which I think is what we're all here to do, follow those gut feelings and prompts and excitement and joy to what we want to do, what we're meant to do. Doing that will thank the universe; doing it is an expression of my gratitude, to whatever sources I had. No particularity necessary.

Hey - I must be an unschooler! Whole life learning.

Go figure.


julie @ letter9 said...

i myself just love a plan. a mind map. an outline. in academic writing, in particular, i have always been known to be one to gather my ideas, sweep together my evidence into small piles, and THEN dive into the language part.

it seems anal but i feel like it actually opens me up to be more creative with the writing because i'm using less brain power to do the organizing and thinking stuff.

Ann said...

Wow, I feel your pain...like you're writing a research paper. I despised that kind of organizing-type stuff bc I wanted things to just be organic, and flow.

I like the unschooling concept. I do find a "loose" outline helpful at times though, but I don't like to feel reined in by it - sometimes I just make an "outline list" and use that to cover some thoughts...

Lori said...

i had a moment like that last winter. i was tucked in bed with the boys reading aloud from bill bryson's "history of almost everything" and suddenly they started talking about isaac newton .. both of them telling things i had *no* idea they knew and no idea when they picked them up - we had a great conversation, and i was once again blown away by everything they learn that i don't even notice.