The public notebook of writer and essayist Scott Nesbitt

On Thinking in Bullet Points

That's how I do my best thinking. In fact, most of my thinking and most of the planning that I do mentally is in the form of bullet points. At least, that's how I conceptualize my thinking and planning.

Everything gets broken down into individual thoughts. Concise little packages that come in a recognizable sequence. All of that takes a very rough shape of a list in my mind's eye, and I'm able to mentally shuffle those points around as they coalesce and as my brain finds links between them.

When I'm ready to really work on those ideas, to mold them into a whole, I transfer the bullet points in my head into an outliner. That sounds kind of strange, going from bullet points to bullet points. Instead, why not write everything out, even in a very rough or a draft form?

This process doesn't work like that with me. I need to see the list of thoughts in front of me. They need to be in a form in which I can manipulate, edit, connect, and bolster all those points ever further.

Once that's done, I can decide what to do next, what I need to do next. From there, I can (I hope) create something that resembles a cohesive whole. Something, maybe, that's worth reading or pondering in more detail.