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It might seem like an easy step. Just open a new file and start typing, right? But it’s rare for that to work for me. I love to have a solid working title and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could speed up his writing process ~600 percent by creating an outline .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the exact same process for every new article I work . Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the same work over and over means that is probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to create a few templates for myself.
I began by developing a template for the 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 according to a writer whose work I respect.
For each template I’ve created a gist to show you what they look like. They’re just Markdown documents, so go right 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 on the”view raw” link on the bottom of every list to view the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file in your favorite writing app.
With this template, I can begin with answering each dot point with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. By the time I am done, I will have a rough sketch of what the finished piece will look like. This should make it simpler to enlarge my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other nicely, because I know the structure of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I’d actually planned to perform a complete rough draft of that post in the morning, but it took me a couple of hours just to get the outline done, so 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 segment would comprise and how they’d work together to create a sense of flow in the post. Though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time because I’d put myself up for success. Writing the draft was only a matter of taking each chunk of notes from the outline and filling out it into a readable paragraph or 2.
It had been quite a different process to how I normally work, and I was tempted a few times to prevent the extra research or thinking necessary to complete the outline properly. I often put these things off till I am drafting, which is when I must be centered on writing rather. I stuck to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I had.
I have actually coined my outline and research process by applying this template. It is a more effective part of the process now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better function, also.