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It might look like a simple step. Just open a new file and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I love to have a solid working title and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he found he could accelerate his composing process ~600 percent by producing an outline .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the same process for every single new post I work . Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and above means that is probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for my most common Ghost blog post structure. Since that structure’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John structures his posts, and another based on a writer whose work I admire.
For each template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They’re just Markdown documents, so go 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 the”view raw” link on the bottom of every gist to view the plain text version, which you may copy into a new file in your favourite writing app.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot line with a couple of notes about what I should write in that section. From the time I am done, I will have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it easier to expand my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow into each other nicely, since I know the arrangement of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became more involved. I had actually planned to perform a full rough draft of the post in the early hours, but it took me a couple of hours just to have the outline done, so I put off the draft for a different day.
On the other hand, I’d over 1600 words written in my outline, and a solid idea about what each segment would contain and how they would work together to create a sense of flow in the article. Though outlining took more than usual, drafting took time since I’d set myself up for victory. Composing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes out of 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 few times to avoid the additional research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline correctly. I frequently put off these things until I’m drafting, which is when I must be centered on writing rather. I stuck to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I have actually overhauled my outline and research process by using this template. It’s a more effective part of my procedure now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better work, also.