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It might look like an easy step. Just open a new document and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to have a strong working title and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could speed up his writing procedure ~600% by creating an outline first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I had been repeating the same process for every single new post I work . Like any fantastic programmer, I realized repeating the same work over and above means that’s probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for my common Ghost blog post structure. Since that arrangement’s particular to me, I created a template based on how John constructions his articles, and another based on a writer whose work I admire.
For each template I’ve made a gist to show you exactly what they look like. They’re only Markdown documents, so go ahead and save , 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 every list to view the plain text version, which you can copy to a new file in your favorite writing program.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot point using a few notes about what I need to write in that segment. From the time I am done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it easier to expand my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other nicely, because I understand the arrangement of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became much more involved. I’d really planned to perform a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a few hours simply to have the outline done, so that I set the draft off for another day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a solid idea of what each segment would comprise and how they would work together to create a feeling of flow from the article. Though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time since I had 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 process to how I normally do the job, and I had been tempted a few times to prevent the additional research or thinking necessary to complete the outline properly. I frequently put these things off till I’m drafting, which is when I should be centered on writing instead. I adhered to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I had.
I have actually coined my outline and research process by using this template. It’s a more effective part of the process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, too.