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home building checklist template
It might seem like an easy step. Simply open a new document and start typing, right? But it’s rare for this to work for me. I like to get a solid working title and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this before, after he found he could speed up his composing procedure ~600% by creating an outline first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the same procedure for every new post I work . Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the same work over and over means that’s probably a good chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I began by creating 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 posts, and another based on a writer whose work I respect.
For each template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They are only Markdown documents, so go right ahead and save them, rename them if you prefer, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you are ready to write. Click on the”view raw” link on the bottom of every list to observe the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file in your favourite writing app.
With this template, I can start by answering each dot line using a couple of notes about what I need to write in that section. 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 make them flow to each other nicely, since I understand the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I found that my outlining process became more involved. I’d actually planned to perform a full rough draft of that post in the morning, but it took me a few hours just to get the outline done, so I put the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words written in my outline, and a solid idea about 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 less time because I had set myself up for success. Writing 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 was quite a different process to how I normally do the job, and I had been tempted a couple of times to avoid the extra research or thinking required to fill out the outline correctly. I often put off these things until I am drafting, and that’s when I should be focused on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I’ve actually coined my outline and research process by applying this template. It’s a more effective part of my process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better work, too.
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