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It might look like an easy step. Simply open a new file and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for this to work for me. I love to have a strong working title and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he found he could speed up his writing procedure ~600 percent by creating a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I had been repeating the same process for every new article I work on. Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and over 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 the most common Ghost blog article arrangement. Since that arrangement’s particular to me, I also created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another based on a writer whose work I admire.
For every template I’ve made a gist to show you exactly what they look like. They are just Markdown documents, so go ahead and save , rename them if you like, 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 each list to observe the plain text version, which you may copy to a new file in your favourite writing app.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot point 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 finished piece will look like. This should make it easier to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow into each other well, since I understand the structure of the entire piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became more involved. I’d really planned to do a full rough draft of that post in the morning, but it took me a couple of hours simply to get the outline done, so I put the draft off for a different day.
On the other hand, I had over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a good idea about what each segment would contain and how they’d work together to create a feeling of flow in the article. Even though outlining took more than usual, drafting took less time since I’d 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 two.
It was quite a different procedure to how I normally work, and I was tempted a few times to prevent the extra research or thinking required to complete the outline correctly. I frequently put off these things till I’m drafting, which is when I should be focused on writing instead. I adhered to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I have really overhauled my outline and study procedure by applying this template. It is a more productive part of my procedure now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better function, too.
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