When I’m preparing to write anything significant, I spend a disproportionately large amount of time deciding on the outline for it. Often I will then write the introduction, and then the conclusion, before turning to the body of the document. I find that if I don’t spend a good amount of time on the planning, and I cut corners, then it takes me correspondingly longer to finish the document. This is because I haven’t thought it through properly and it doesn’t have the right structure or flow. It doesn’t hang together nor is it convincing.

It’s all in the preparation. Cooking, doing an important presentation or speech, tackling an essay at school, there’s a feeling of release – or is it relief – when you’ve done the prep, or built the outline. It feels like half the battle and you know you’re on solid ground from hereon in. The rest follows more easily, hanging comfortably on the framework of a solid beginning, middle and end.

Does this mean I’m denigrating the benefits or merits of spontaneity? Not really. There’s so much to be said for going with the flow and sometimes the best of times come from spur-of-the-moment behaviour. It all depends on the situation :-).