Titrating gene expression with series of systematically from 5 year plan template , image source: biorxiv.org
It might seem like an easy step. Just open a new document and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a strong working name and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could speed up his composing procedure ~600 percent by creating a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the exact same procedure for every single new article I work on. Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and above means that’s probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for my most common Ghost blog post structure. Since that structure’s particular to me, I also created a template based on how John structures his posts, and another according to a writer whose work I admire.
For every template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They are only Markdown files, so go ahead and save , rename them if you prefer, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. 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 on your favourite writing app.
With this template, I can begin with 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 to fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other well, because I know the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became much more involved. I had really planned to do a full rough draft of that post in the early hours, but it took me a couple of hours just to get the outline done, so I set the draft off for another day.
On the other hand, I had over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a good idea of what each section would contain and how they would work together to create a sense of flow from the post. Even though outlining took more than usual, drafting took 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 out it into a readable paragraph or 2.
It was quite a different process to the way I normally work, and that I had been tempted a couple of times to prevent the extra research or thinking required to fill out the outline correctly. I frequently put these things off till I am drafting, and that’s when I should be focused on writing rather. I stuck to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I had.
I have actually coined my outline and research procedure by applying this template. It’s a more productive part of the process now, and makes printing easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better work, also.