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christmas wish list template
It might seem like a simple step. Simply open a new file and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for this to work for me. I like to get a solid working title and an outline before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could speed up his writing procedure ~600% by producing an outline first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the same procedure for every new article I work on. Like any fantastic programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and above means that’s probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for the most common Ghost blog article arrangement. Since that arrangement’s particular to me, I also created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another according to a writer whose work I respect.
For each template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They’re only Markdown files, so go ahead and save , rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. Click on the”view raw” link on the bottom of every list to view the plain text version, which you can copy to a new file on your favorite writing program.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot line using a couple of notes about what I need to write in that segment. By the time I’m done, I will have a rough sketch of what the finished piece will look like. This should make it easier to expand my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other nicely, since I understand the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I found that my outlining process became much more involved. I’d actually planned to do a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a couple of hours just to get the outline done, so that I put the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a solid idea about what each section would comprise and how they’d work together to create a feeling of flow in the post. Even though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took less time because I’d put myself up for success. Composing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes from the outline and filling it out into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different process to the way I normally work, and I had been tempted a couple of times to avoid the extra research or thinking required to complete the outline properly. I frequently put off these things till I’m drafting, which is when I should be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, though, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I have really coined my outline and research procedure by applying this template. It is a more effective part of my procedure now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, too.
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