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It may look like a simple step. Just open a new document and begin typing, right? But it’s rare for this to work for me. I love to have a solid working name and a summary before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he found he could accelerate his composing procedure ~600% by producing a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the exact same process for every single new post I work . Like any fantastic programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and above means that is probably a fantastic opportunity for automation.
So I decided to create a few templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for the most common Ghost blog article arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John structures his posts, and another according to a writer whose work I respect.
For each template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They’re only Markdown documents, so go ahead and save them, rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you are ready to compose. Click on the”view raw” link to the bottom of every gist to view the plain text version, which you may copy to a new file in your favorite writing program.
With this template, I can start by answering each dot line using a couple of notes about what I should write in that section. From the time I’m done, I will have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it easier to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other well, since I know the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I found that my outlining process became more involved. I’d actually planned to do a full rough draft of that post in the early hours, but it took me a few hours just to have the outline done, so that I put the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I had over 1600 words written in my outline, along with a good idea of what each section would contain and how they would work together to create a sense of flow in the article. Though outlining took longer than usual, drafting took less time because I’d set myself up for success. Writing the draft was only a matter of taking each chunk of notes from the outline and filling it out into a readable paragraph or 2.
It was quite a different procedure to the way I normally do the job, and that I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the additional research or thinking required to complete the outline correctly. I frequently put off these things till I’m drafting, and that’s when I should be centered on writing instead. I adhered to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I’ve really coined my outline and research process by using this template. It is a more productive part of my procedure now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better function, also.