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It may seem like an easy step. Just open a new file and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a strong working title and an outline before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could speed up his composing process ~600 percent by producing a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I had been repeating the exact same process for every new post I work on. Like any fantastic programmer, I realised repeating the exact same work over and above means that is probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I began by developing a template for the common Ghost blog article structure. Since that structure’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another based on a writer whose work I respect.
For every template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They’re only Markdown files, so go 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 view the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file on your favourite writing program.
With this template, I can start with answering each dot line with a couple of notes about what I should write in that section. From the time I am done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it simpler to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow into each other nicely, since I know the arrangement of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became much more involved. I’d actually planned to do a complete rough draft of that post in the early hours, but it took me a couple of hours simply to get the outline done, so that I set the draft off for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words composed in my outline, along with a solid idea about what each section would contain and how they’d work together to create a sense of flow in the article. Even though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time because I’d put myself up for victory. Writing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes from the outline and filling out it into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different procedure to how I normally do the job, and I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the additional research or thinking required to fill out the outline properly. I frequently put these things off until I’m drafting, and that’s when I should be focused on writing rather. I adhered to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I’ve actually coined my outline and research process by applying this template. It is a more productive part of the process now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better function, also.