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printable countdown calendar template
It may look to be a simple step. Just open a new document and start typing, right? But it’s rare for that to work for me. I love to have a solid working title and an outline before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could accelerate his writing procedure ~600% by producing a summary first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the same procedure for every new article I work on. Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the exact same work over and over means that is probably a fantastic chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for the most common Ghost blog post 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 respect.
For each template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They are only Markdown documents, so go right ahead and save them, rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you are ready to write. Click on the”view raw” link on the bottom of every list to view the plain text version, which you may copy to a new file in your favorite writing app.
With this template, I can start with answering each dot line with a couple of notes about what I need to write in that section. By 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 into fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other well, because I understand the structure of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I had really planned to perform a complete 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 put off the draft for another day.
On the other hand, I’d over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a good idea of what each section would comprise and how they’d work together to create a feeling of flow from the post. Though outlining took more than usual, drafting took less time because I’d set myself up for victory. Composing 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 was quite a different procedure to how I normally do the job, and that I had been tempted a few times to prevent the extra research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline properly. I often put these things off until I am drafting, and that’s when I must be centered on writing rather. I adhered to it, however, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I’d had.
I’ve really overhauled my outline and research process by using this template. It is a more effective part of my process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, also.
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