Zoho Sign from sign up sheet template , image source: zoho.com
It may look like an easy step. Just open a new file and begin typing, right? But it’s rare for this to work for me. I love to get a solid working title and a summary before I write a lot of. John’s written about this earlier, after he discovered he could speed up his writing procedure ~600 percent by producing an outline first.
As I wrote an outline for a post this week I realised I had been repeating the exact same procedure for every new article I work . Like any fantastic programmer, I realized repeating the same work over and over means that is probably a fantastic chance for automation.
So I decided to create some templates for myself.
I started by creating a template for the common Ghost blog post structure. Since that structure’s particular to mepersonally, I also 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 are just Markdown documents, so go ahead and save them, 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 to the bottom of each gist to view the plain text version, which you can copy into a new file on your favourite writing program.
With this template, I can start by answering each dot point using a few notes about what I should write in that section. From the time I am done, I’ll have a rough sketch of what the finished piece will look like. This should make it easier to enlarge my notes into fully-formed paragraphs and make them flow to each other well, because I know the arrangement of the whole piece in advance.
Using the template, I discovered that my outlining process became more involved. I’d actually planned to do a full rough draft of the post in the early hours, but it took me a few hours simply to have the outline done, so that I put off the draft for a different day.
On the flip side, I had over 1600 words composed in my outline, along with a good idea about what each section would contain and how they’d work together to create a feeling of flow from the post. Though outlining took longer than normal, drafting took time since I’d put myself up for victory. 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 had been tempted a few times to avoid the extra research or thinking required to complete the outline correctly. I often put off these things until I’m drafting, and that’s when I must be centered on writing instead. I stuck to it, though, and from the time I got around to writing the draft I was glad I’d had.
I have really overhauled my outline and research procedure by applying this template. It is a more productive part of my procedure now and makes drafting easier. Hopefully it’ll lead to better work, too.