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It may look like an easy step. Simply open a new file and start typing, right? But it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a solid working name and a summary before I write a lot of. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could accelerate his writing procedure ~600 percent by producing a summary .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the same process for every new post I work on. Like any good programmer, I realised repeating the same work over and above means that’s probably a good chance for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for my common Ghost blog article arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to mepersonally, I also created a template based on how John structures his posts, and another based on a writer whose work I admire.
For every template I’ve made a gist to show you exactly what they look like. They are 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 write. Click the”view raw” link to the bottom of every list to observe the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file on your favourite writing program.
With this template, I can begin by answering each dot point with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. By the time I’m done, I will 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 make them flow into each other nicely, because I understand the arrangement of the whole piece beforehand.
Using the template, I found that my summarizing procedure became much more involved. I had really planned to perform a full rough draft of the post in the early hours, but it took me a few hours simply to get the outline done, so that I set off the draft for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words composed in my outline, and a solid idea about what each segment would contain and how they would work together to create a sense of flow in the article. Even though outlining took more than usual, drafting took time because I had put myself up for success. Composing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes from the outline and filling it out into a readable paragraph or 2.
It was quite a different procedure to how I normally do the job, and that I had been tempted a couple of times to avoid the additional research or thinking required to complete the outline correctly. I often put off these things until I am drafting, which is when I should be focused on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and by the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I’d had.
I have actually coined my outline and study procedure by applying this template. It’s a more effective part of my process now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better function, too.