2.5 Templates for Anything
Productivity hack no.21 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.
When you’re given a blank sheet of paper and told to create something it’s hard. You have to think what sections you want. What information you need to cover. What length each section should be. Once you have a structure you can then set about doing the work and creating the masterpiece.
When I write a song I know that it needs a verse, probably two, a chorus, a bridge/middle eight, a chorus, a verse and then another chorus. It’ll usually have an intro and outro too. The words will typically rhyme at the end of each line. They will take the listener on a journey. The chorus is a bit more catchy.
Think about the pop industry. The songs are broadly the same in structure. Some break the mould (Bohemian Rhapsody) but by and large they are a kind of paint by numbers exercise.
Think about your favourite TV cop drama. Washed up, troubled, alcoholic cop called in to a murder scene. Bit of tension between them and another in the department. A clue takes them down a rabbit hole. It all seems so pointless as they can’t break it. Then the genius, troubled, alcoholic cop spots something no-one else saw, and boom! The case gets solved super quick. Cut to alcoholic cop in bar brooding while he nurses another double.
I may be simplifying and exaggerating to make a point, but these shows are formulaic and that’s why we like them. 24 season 2 is basically the same as 24 season 1. Every novel or film has a story arc with a few mini climaxes or terrible things that put the protagonists in jeopardy. And then there’s a resolution.
It makes it easier to do things quickly if you have a template or formula.
If you’re a blogger, set up a blogging template - 500 words total, intro, personal story or interesting fact, develop the theme, conclusion, ask readers for their thoughts. If you’re training for a cycle ride create your template/formula for your warm-up or nutrition/hydration routine. If you’re a writer, set up your template and then fill in the blanks.
I do not suggest this will make the quality any better than it would have been if you hadn’t used a template, but it will make it quicker to get to your first draft and give you the all-important time needed to edit and refine for your second draft.
Where possible, in whatever you’re trying to achieve, try to create templates so you can more speedily start and then complete the tasks you have on your list.
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