I seem to have an unorthodox method of paper writing. I don't write outlines or crazy bubble-flowcharts of whatever it is that I'm suppose to be writing about. Instead I spend a bit of time becoming generally aware of the topic through research and then I sit down with my articles and a cup of tea and I start writing the paper. This doesn't sound all that strange yet... OK, I sit down with my articles that I have not yet marked in anyway and many of which I have not yet read and I start to write my paper while reading the articles and getting inspired to write paragraphs on whatever my reaction to the article is based on my previous knowledge of the topic. It's more like journaling. I react to a collection of articles and continually edit those reactions as I continue to write. This may be why I ended up with what I believe is a very good sociology final paper after going through the paper and informally reverse outlining it in order to rearrange it into a more logical flow than the original version. I did this as a small concert at the King Club last spring. From what I understand, the concert was someone's final project for a class. Strange. My TA must have believed the paper was good too, as it earned me an A and was one of only two papers that he felt really deserved more original research on the thesis.*
The thing is, I've tried writing papers the way that teachers have tried to instruct me to write. Outlines. Writing up notes with references on index cards that can be rearranged at will. Flowcharts of one form or another. Flowcharts on paper and flowcharts on my computer. Outlines in notebooks and outlines on my laptop. I have to admit that while I really like the OmniOutliner program that came loaded on my macBook, when I tried using it to write my second peacebuilding paper I didn't feel like it did anything to effectively help me write my paper, certainly not more than my usual style of paper writing would have done. Truly, basic word processing programs are the best things that every happened for me. The ability to effortlessly rearrange whole paragraphs or pages is indeed awesome. The one place where I'm not sure of is if the electronic version or a piece of paper is preferable for the articles that I have to read.
*the purpose of the paper was to review printed literature on the subject, so original research was outside of the paper's parameters. Fortunately or unfortunately, original research is not outside the parameters of the thesis paper that I'm working on.