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It may seem to be an easy step. Just open a new file and begin typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I like to get a solid working name and a summary before I write too much. John’s written about this before, after he discovered he could speed up his composing process ~600 percent by producing an outline .
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realized I was repeating the exact same procedure for every single new post I work on. Like any good programmer, I realized repeating the exact same work over and above means that is probably a good opportunity for automation.
So I decided to make some templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for my common Ghost blog post arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to mepersonally, I also created a template based on how John structures his articles, and another according to a writer whose work I admire.
For each template I’ve made a gist to show you what they look like. They’re 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 are ready to write. Click on the”view raw” link on the bottom of every list to observe the plain text version, which you may copy to a new file in your favorite writing program.
With this template, I can begin with answering each dot point with a couple of notes about what I should write in that segment. From the time I am done, I will have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it easier to enlarge my notes to fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other well, because I know the structure of the entire piece beforehand.
Using the template, I discovered that my summarizing procedure became more involved. I had actually planned to do a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a couple of hours just to have the outline done, so I put off the draft for a different day.
On the flip side, I’d over 1600 words written 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 from the post. Though outlining took longer than usual, drafting took time since I had put myself up for success. Writing the draft was just a matter of taking each chunk of notes out of the outline and filling it out into a readable paragraph or two.
It had been quite a different process to how I normally do the job, and that I had been tempted a couple of times to prevent the additional research or thinking necessary to complete the outline properly. I often put these things off until 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’d had.
I’ve really coined my outline and research procedure by applying this template. It is a more effective part of my process now, and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better function, also.