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It might seem to be an easy step. Simply open a new document and begin typing, right? But it’s rare for this to work for me. I like to get a strong working name and an outline before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could accelerate his writing procedure ~600% by creating a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the same process for every new post I work . Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and over means that’s probably a fantastic opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I began by creating a template for the common Ghost blog post structure. Since that arrangement’s particular to mepersonally, I also created a template based on how John structures his posts, and another according to a writer whose work I admire.
For every template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They are only Markdown files, so go right ahead and save them, rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. Click the”view raw” link on the bottom of each list to observe the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file in your favorite writing program.
With this template, I can begin with answering each dot point 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 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 discovered that my outlining process became much more involved. I had actually planned to perform a full rough draft of the post in the early hours, but it took me a few hours simply to have the outline done, so that I set the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words written in my outline, along with a solid idea of what each section would comprise and how they would work together to create a sense of flow in the post. Though outlining took more than usual, drafting took time because I had put myself up for success. Composing the draft was only a matter of taking each chunk of notes out of the outline and filling out it into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different procedure to how I normally do the job, and I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the additional research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline correctly. I frequently put these things off till I am drafting, which is when I must be focused on writing instead. I adhered to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I had.
I have actually coined my outline and study process by applying this template. It is a more effective part of the process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better function, too.
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