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It might look like an easy step. Simply open a new document and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for this to work for me. I like to have a solid working title and an outline before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could speed up his composing process ~600 percent by creating a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the exact same procedure for every single new article I work . Like any fantastic programmer, I realized repeating the same work over and over means that’s probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I began by creating a template for the common Ghost blog post arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to me, I also created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another based on a writer whose work I admire.
For every template I’ve created a gist to show you exactly what they look like. They are just Markdown documents, so go right ahead and save , rename them if you prefer, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. Click on the”view raw” link to the bottom of each gist to observe the plain text version, which you can copy to a new file on your favourite writing program.
With this template, I can begin with answering each dot line with a couple of notes about what I need to write in that segment. From the time I am done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it easier to enlarge my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow into each other nicely, since I understand the structure of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I found that my outlining process became more involved. I’d really planned to do a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a few hours just to get the outline done, so I set the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I had over 1600 words written in my outline, and a solid idea of what each section would contain and how they would work together to create a feeling of flow from the article. Though outlining took longer than usual, drafting took 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 out it into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different procedure to the way I normally do the job, and that I had been tempted a couple of times to prevent the extra research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline correctly. I frequently put these things off till I’m drafting, which is when I should be centered on writing rather. I adhered to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I have really overhauled my outline and study procedure by applying this template. It is a more productive part of the process now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, too.