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It may look to be an easy step. Simply open a new document and start typing, right? But it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to have a solid working title and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could accelerate his composing process ~600 percent by creating an outline .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the exact same process for every new post I work on. Like any fantastic programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and above means that’s probably a fantastic chance for automation.
So I decided to make a few templates for myself.
I began by developing a template for my most common Ghost blog post arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to mepersonally, 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 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 every list to observe 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 with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. 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 expand my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other nicely, because I understand the arrangement of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I’d really 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 I set the draft off for another day.
On the other hand, I’d over 1600 words written in my outline, and a solid idea of what each segment would contain and how they would work together to create a feeling of flow in the post. Though outlining took longer than usual, drafting took less time because I’d set 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 2.
It had been quite a different procedure to the way I normally work, and that I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the extra research or thinking required to complete the outline correctly. I frequently put off these things till I am drafting, which is when I must be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I had.
I have really coined my outline and research procedure by applying this template. It is a more effective part of the process now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better function, too.
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