Yes, when outlines are required, this is what students do! But if you do this reasonably effectively, when you reduce what you've already written to its underlying conceptual structure (e.g., outline), you can see if that structure is weak or inadequate. Then you need to go back and revise your essay appropriately. The worst situation -- and this happens all the time -- is that students pull out an outline that really does not exist conceptually in the essay. And not just students: the computer scientists I work with, along with others in that field, routinely "structure" their papers using section and subsection headings which are expected and required in that medium; but the actual content in the sections often has little to do with its supposed topic. Or they include sections they consider to be standard in their field, even when those sections are not relevant to the conceptual content of that paper.Originally Posted by jmarkey
Writing first, outlining later is essentially working from the bottom up, as I partially described in my earlier post. This is often the only obvious way to get started. It's fine as long as you realize that it's only a first step. But until you extract and refine the top-down logical structure, and present it to the reader top-down, your writing will not be as compelling or memorable as it could be.