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It might seem like a simple step. Just open a new document and begin typing, right? But it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a solid working title and a summary before I write a lot of. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could speed up his composing procedure ~600% by creating a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the same procedure for every new article I work on. Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and over means that’s probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make a few templates for myself.
I started by creating 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 posts, and another according to a writer whose work I respect.
For every template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They are only Markdown files, so go right ahead and save , rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you are ready to compose. 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 favorite writing program.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot point with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. By the time I’m done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the finished piece will look like. This should make it simpler to enlarge my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other nicely, since I understand the structure of the whole piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became more involved. I’d actually planned to do a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a few hours just to get the outline done, so I put off the draft for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words written in my outline, and a good idea of what each section would contain and how they would work together to create a sense of flow in the article. Though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time since I had set myself up for success. Writing 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 work, and that I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the extra research or thinking required to complete the outline properly. I frequently put off these things until I’m drafting, and that’s when I must be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I’d had.
I have actually coined my outline and study process by using this template. It is a more productive part of my procedure now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better function, also.