Your Next “Breakthrough”: By Not Writing Linearly

In life, we’re often taught to do things in order, follow the rules, and travel down the path others are marching down.

Which is good, much of the time, but not always. And, in this case, breaking the rules may mean a breakthrough for you.

We often approach writing projects linearly — headline or title first, then writing the piece from beginning to end. After all, it’s how we read copy. Shouldn't we write it the same way?

It may seem like the contrary thing to do, but not writing in a linear fashion can be a great way to open your mind. It gets you away from logic and allows you to be creative.

Creativity can and has been a stepping-stone to many breakthroughs in writing and in many other fields. A reason for this is that working non-linearly changes your perspective.

This, in turn, can alter the way you approach things … meaning, things become like a puzzle, and you put them together in that fashion.

Furthermore, it’s an interesting and fun way to approach your writing. It breaks away from the standard A-to-Z method of writing in order, which lets you view things differently.

But first, you have to learn to …

Break Away

You can’t “break away” and explore new levels and ways of writing if you stick to the common A-to-Z path every time you put your pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard. Many claim it’s inspirational to play with non-linear methods when writing.

For me, it has even allowed me to get free from writer’s block. This is great if you ever find yourself in a struggle with that “dreaded blank page,” especially when it pertains to a client project.

Speed …

This is another benefit that can come from writing in a non-linear manner. I know this from personal experience in working with non-linear forms of writing. So, don’t be afraid to test it out, and don’t be surprised if you find it can allow you to “break the chains” and run free … and write at new levels of rocket speed.

Yet, magic doesn’t happen from the very start. It will take some practice and time to get used to. So, allow yourself that adjustment period. Don’t expect miracles right out of the gate.

Play with it, try doing an outline in a non-linear writing method, just to get used to it and start out. Then, progress to other levels as you become more comfortable with it.

The Pros Recommend It

Big name direct-response copywriter, John Carlton, is a huge promoter of writing in a non-linear fashion, when doing a client project or even his own side projects. If the pros like Carlton swear by this method, there has to be something to it.

I sure have found that to be true in my own experiences of experimenting with the non-linear way of writing. You can always go back to a linear method in revisions, or at any point, if it suits that specific part or section you’re working on.

So, the secret here is to use it to your advantage. Make those breakthroughs, and then, if need be, you can return to the linear method to make edits and tie it all together.

Is There a “Science” to It?

I really was hoping to find some “solid facts,” but I didn’t exactly find them where I expected to.

When I started researching in other areas away from writing — like math, science, architecture, and so on — proof points and more in-depth reasons behind “the non-linear method” began to reveal themselves.

Yet, it seems that science has not fully ventured into this area, either. Even though I found a lot of materials in the other areas, I felt as if I was falling short of finding that perfect piece of “hard proof.”

In returning to the topic of writing and proof points, when I searched for “proof,” much of it was little more than philosophy or an individual’s personal experiences.

Is That Bad?

No, not at all … it’s still a form of proof, which shows there’s “something” to it. In fact, it’s kind of exciting. It means it’s still unchartered territory, which leaves much exploring for you to do. It also leads us to the question of …

So, What Does This Really All Mean for a B2B Copywriter?

The lack of science to this is what makes it fun. You get to explore and test out methods of writing in the non-linear way. You’ll find what works for you and what doesn’t … and, in turn, you just may find that breakthrough that takes your writing to a new level.

Again, you’re never “locked in” to anything. You can always return to a linear form of writing, or sub-linear form, if it just doesn’t click for you, you find yourself getting stuck, or if you naturally find yourself reverting to it as your writing progresses.

To Recap a Bit …

In my personal experiences of using non-linear writing, I have had many great benefits. One being that it has helped curb writer’s block.

Even when writing an outline, when you jump around filling in sub-heads, titles, and brief notes, you’ll find you quickly fill the page. Having something on the page to work with kills that blank page which stares back at you, delaying any form of progress.

Taking a non-linear approach can quickly turn the tables and have you writing non-stop. Once you begin filling the page, the writing takes off, and, with a little bit of motivation, writing speed can improve, as well.

So, take the leap and try the non-linear method. You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

So, dive in today and give it a try.

This article, Your Next "Breakthrough": By Not Writing Linearly, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: January 7, 2016

3 Responses to “Your Next “Breakthrough”: By Not Writing Linearly”

  1. Hi Mac, I would be interested in seeing your feedback as well as what other have to say...
    I have found it difficult to be a creative copywriter (as opposed to another genre)because of the need to meet SEO requirements. I write freestyle as I would with anything else but find myself needing to go back and change titles, text, stand out in Google. Perhaps I just need more practice[?].

    Nora King

  2. Hello Mac, Happy New Year to you, Whenever I sit down to write, I just write non stop what in my mind at that moment.
    Then I put it on a side for review later.
    Because English is my third language, sometimes I get stuck with the right words,I just get up and take a short walk then I can resume my writing.
    I will follow your advice to practice writing with a non linear manner.
    Thank you. God Bless Jennie


  3. Being that this is my first crack at a new career I was most pleased to find a spot that where I was down right comfortable. Already it seems that a bit of the nervous edge has been dulled by the idea that I might just use my own bent in writing to build salable copy. Of course there is a long way to go but there is nothing quite like having a warm puppy to start off with.



Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)