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It might seem to be a simple step. Simply open a new file and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to have a solid working name and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could speed up his composing process ~600% by creating an outline first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the exact same procedure for every new article I work . Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and above means that is probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make a few templates for myself.
I began by creating a template for my most common Ghost blog post structure. Since that arrangement’s particular to mepersonally, I created a template based on how John constructions 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 only Markdown documents, so go right ahead and save , rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. Click the”view raw” link to the bottom of every list to observe the plain text version, which you can copy to a new file in your favourite writing program.
With this template, I can begin with answering each dot line using a couple of notes about what I need to 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 simpler to expand my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other well, because I know the structure of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became much more involved. I had actually planned to do a full rough draft of that post in the early hours, but it took me a few hours simply to have the outline done, so that I set 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 comprise and how they would work together to create a sense of flow from the article. Even though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took less time because I had put 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 procedure to how I normally do the job, and I was tempted a few times to prevent the additional research or thinking required to complete the outline properly. I frequently put off these things till I’m drafting, which is when I must be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, though, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I have actually overhauled my outline and research procedure by using this template. It is a more productive part of my process now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, too.