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It might seem to be a simple step. Simply open a new document and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I love to have a strong working name and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could accelerate his writing procedure ~600% by producing a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I was repeating the same procedure for every single new article I work on. Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and above means that is probably a fantastic chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I began by creating a template for my common Ghost blog article structure. Since that arrangement’s particular to me, I 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 exactly what they look like. They’re 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’re ready to write. Click on the”view raw” link to the bottom of every list to view the plain text version, which you may copy into a new file in your favorite writing app.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot point using a few notes about what I should write in that segment. By the time I’m done, I will have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it simpler to expand my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow into each other well, since I understand the arrangement of the entire piece in advance.
Using the template, I found that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I had really planned to perform a full rough draft of that post in the morning, but it took me a couple of hours just to have the outline done, so that I put the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I had over 1600 words written in my outline, and a good idea of what each section would contain and how they’d work together to create a sense of flow from the post. Though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time because I’d put myself up for victory. Writing the draft was only a matter of taking each chunk of notes out of the outline and filling it out into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different process to the way I normally work, and that I had been tempted a few times to avoid the extra research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline correctly. I often put off these things until I am drafting, which is when I should be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I’ve really overhauled my outline and study procedure by applying this template. It is a more productive part of my process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better work, too.
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