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Richard Haines
Richard Haines

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How to plan articles in 3 steps

I've been trying to develop a more concise way to structure my article before I write them. That is, the process I go through before I even open vscode and start typing away.

This is a high-level view of my process that I would like to share as I've found it quite productive. It isn't some revolutionary new way of doing things. I had a google, read what other people had done, and made a patchwork copy to suit my style of doing things. Maybe you'll be able to take something from it that will help you.

Making notes before you start

This may seem obvious but it's quite essential to get your head in the right place and not have wild thoughts taking over as you write. By taking notes when you are learning "the thing" and having them available pre-writing, you're saving yourself time and headaches later. Once you have your notes you are ready to begin the process of brainstorming your article.

The pre-writing steps

I like to use Notion to configure my plan before I begin writing. The flow goes something like this:

Step 1:

  • Collect knowledge through doing the thing
  • List out all the headers as high-level topics - unordered (Notion allows you to drag and reorder everything because it's all built on blocks 😎)

Step 2:

  • The article should begin by answering the question: What is this article for? Not literally, but posing a question around the article's main topic and giving a short, concise answer draws the reader in while giving them a brief overview of what to expect.
  • Pick a title that is clear and descriptive
  • The first paragraph of every section should support the title and add context
  • Organize the headers so that they are in order and they flow. It could mean deleting any that no longer make sense.

Step 3:

  • Go through each step and add content. The content should support the heading and add context so that the reader can follow along.

Once I have my headers in order and have written a short paragraph for each one, I switch over to vscode and begin laying out the article. I find this method of planning enables me to focus on what I need to convey to the reader for them to get the most from what I'm writing.

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