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It may look to be an easy step. Just open a new file and begin typing, right? But it’s rare for this to work for me. I love to get a strong working title and a summary before I write a lot of. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could speed up his writing procedure ~600% by creating a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the same process for every new article I work on. Like any fantastic programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and above means that is probably a good chance for automation.
So I decided to make a few templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for the common Ghost blog post arrangement. Since that arrangement’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John constructions his posts, and another according to a writer whose work I respect.
For every template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They’re just Markdown documents, so go right ahead and save them, rename them if you prefer, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you are ready to write. Click the”view raw” link on the bottom of each list to view the plain text version, which you may copy to a new file in your favourite writing program.
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 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 to fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other nicely, because I know the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I found that my outlining process became much more involved. I’d really 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 put off the draft for a different day.
On the flip side, I had over 1600 words written in my outline, along with a solid idea about what each section would comprise and how they would work together to create a sense of flow from the post. Though outlining took more 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 out it into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different process to how I normally work, and I was tempted a couple of times to prevent the extra research or thinking necessary to complete the outline properly. I often put off these things till I am drafting, and that’s when I should 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 had.
I’ve really coined my outline and study procedure by using this template. It’s a more effective part of the procedure now and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, also.