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It might seem to be a simple step. Simply open a new document and start typing, right? Nonetheless, it’s rare for that to work for me. I love to have a solid working name and an outline before I write a lot of. John’s written about this earlier, after he found he could speed up his composing process ~600 percent by producing an outline .
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 realized repeating the exact same work over and over means that is probably a good chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by developing a template for the common Ghost blog post arrangement. Since that structure’s particular to me, I also created a template based on how John constructions his articles, and another according to a writer whose work I admire.
For each template I’ve created a gist to show you exactly what they look like. They are only Markdown files, so go ahead and save them, rename them if you like, and copy-and-paste the contents into a new file whenever you’re ready to compose. Click the”view raw” link to the bottom of every gist to view the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file in your favourite writing app.
With this template, I can start with answering each dot line using a few notes about what I need to write in that section. By the time I’m done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like. This should make it simpler to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and cause them to flow to each other nicely, since I know the structure of the entire piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became more involved. I’d really planned to do a complete rough draft of the post in the morning, but it took me a few hours just to get the outline done, so I put the draft off for another day.
On the other hand, I had over 1600 words composed in my outline, along with a good idea of what each section would contain and how they’d work together to create a feeling of flow from the article. Though outlining took longer than usual, drafting took less time since I’d set myself up for success. 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 procedure to how I normally work, and that I had been tempted a few times to avoid the extra research or thinking necessary to fill out the outline correctly. I frequently put these things off till I am drafting, which is when I must be focused on writing instead. I stuck to it, however, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was grateful I’d had.
I’ve actually overhauled my outline and study procedure by applying this template. It is a more effective part of my procedure now and makes printing easier. Hopefully it will lead to better work, also.