a blog post is like a news story about yourself
This was an insightful commnet made by Nathan, a member of my Blog Writing Meetup. He made this remark in the context of writing style and voice – he would like to reflect his personality in his posts, rather than simply report on facts. But thinking about this insight from another angle might help me understand why I accumulate so many unfinished drafts, and why I rarely go back to them.
News vs. Blog post
News (n): newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events
I won’t go into explaining news nor will I try to redifine it. I’ll simply assume that if you’re reading this post, you can tell a news article when you see one1.
The thing about news is that it’s ephermal. No one will care about this Apple iPhone 7 release date a year from now; or as we joke in my team – chatbots are so April 2016….
Going back to Nathan’s comment, I think of a blog post as coverage of one’s thoughts and ideas, a translation of what goes in one’s mind. And so, writing a blog post is really like writing a news story, covering what’s going on in the writer’s head2. And since thoughts and ideas come and go, not reporting on them in time (obviously, reporting on those worth noting), makes them stale, irrelevant and less interesting. Mind you, though, that they become so in the writer’s mind, and not necesserily in the readers'[^users].
My Drafts Graveyard
It now makes sense why I accumulate tons of drafts, but don’t go back to edit and publish any of them. It’s not that they’re not good, or not interesting, but that they’re not relevant to me anymore. I lost interest, as new thoughts are gushing through my head.
When I started this blog, I implemented a writing hack I thought was useful (I still do) – keeping a draft section in my blog. Every post I start goes into this section, which suppose to help me capture ideas and serve as a springboard for future posts. In reality, though, it’s less a springboard and more graveyard of half backed posts.
The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution
― Albert Einstein
So now that I understand why I never go back to rework on my drafts, it might be easier to find ways around it. My current approach is to use the “burn the bridges” strategy 3, inspired by Sacha Chua’s “Clear out your drafts by scheduling Minimum Viable Posts” post.
The idea is to write a first draft that captures just enough of a thought to make it understandable. Then, instead of putting it aside and plan to get back to work on it (which rarely happens), I would schedule this post to be published in a day or two. Now, I know it’s going to go public and I have no way around it4; I can either iterate on the draft or let it be. But draft it won’t be forever.
I use this new strategy with this post, with that very paragraph, which I’m writing during the grace period before the post published. Next thing I’m thinking to go through my drafts, and start scheduling few of them, reminiscence of past time thoughts’ news…
- To further your understanding of news, I recommend The News: A User’s Manual, by Alain De Botton ↩
- I’m not going into the differences of writing styles between news articles and blog posts. ↩
- “When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War ↩
- Of course, I can cancel the scheduling, but the idea is to let go of that option… ↩