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It may look to be a simple step. Just open a new document and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a strong working title and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could speed up his composing procedure ~600 percent by creating a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the exact same process for every new post I work . Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the exact same work over and over means that is probably a fantastic chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for my most common Ghost blog article structure. Since that structure’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another based on a writer whose work I respect.
For every template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They’re only 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 the”view raw” link on the bottom of every gist to view the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file in your favorite writing app.
With this template, I can start with answering each dot line with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. From the time I am done, I will have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it simpler to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow into each other well, because I know the structure of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I had really planned to do a complete rough draft of that post in the early hours, 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, along with a solid idea of what each segment would comprise and how they’d work together to create a sense of flow from the article. Even though outlining took more than usual, drafting took time because I had set myself up for victory. Composing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes out of the outline and filling out it into a readable paragraph or 2.
It was quite a different procedure to the way I normally work, and that I was tempted a couple of times to avoid the additional research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline properly. I often put off these things till I am drafting, and that’s when I must be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I have really coined my outline and study process by using this template. It is a more effective part of my process now and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, too.
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