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« Future of the Newsletter | Main | Getting Going Again »
Monday
Jan072008

Writing Blog Entries

Something that I have remarked on often in my books is that when one puts one’s attention on a subject it begins to change. This phenomenon is actually at the root of the “Current Initiative” idea in Do It Tomorrow, where the idea is to give a particular subject a daily burst of attention. Projects and the like resemble houseplants. Ideally they should be watered every day. If you miss a day or so, it won’t matter too much, but anything more than that and they will begin to wither and die.

So I was interested to see that the second that I decided to get writing on my blog again I got an idea which had never occurred to me before.

What I’ve done in the past is collect ideas for articles in one place. I usually keep a list of possible titles on Evernote. Then when I am ready to write an article, I select an idea and start drafting it in Notepad. (I use Notepad because, unlike Word, it doesn’t produce any formatting problems when uploaded). Once I have finished the drafting and editing, I upload the article to Squarespace.

Now the chief characteristic of this process is that there are innumerable opportunities for the articles to get lost. And that is exactly what has tended to happen.

And then I had a blinding flash of the obvious. All I had to do was every time I got an idea for an article or posting, however unformed or incoherent, was to start a new entry on the blog and leave it unpublished. That means that all the ideas are in one place, I can have a number of articles in draft at any one time, and none of them are going to get lost.

Now, as I say, this is a blinding flash of the obvious and is probably the way every blogger other than myself has worked since the beginning of recorded time - but it’s not the way I’ve been working. In fact it’s an excellent example of the way improving a system can make life much easier - a subject which I deal with at some length in Do It Tomorrow.

Once one has improved a system, the next question to ask is “How can this be applied elsewhere?” As soon as I ask the question the answer is obvious: I can use exactly the same system of unpublished drafts on ConstantContact for my newsletter.

Related article: Expand Your Ideas the Easy Way!

Reader Comments (5)

Mark, I'm delighted you're blogging again. It was from reading your blog in the summer that I decided to set up my own - on Squarespace, too.

I've tried to post twice a week since I started, and I've yet to run out of ideas. My notebook captures ideas as I get them, and at any time I've probably got six posts planned out at various stages.

So welcome back, and thanks for the intitial inspiration.
January 7, 2008 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterRay Blake
Hi, Ray

Thanks for the comment, and your blog looks very interesting. I'm glad I provided the initial inspiratation!

Best wishes,

Mark
January 7, 2008 at 18:27 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Ray Blake is a find all right !

I too am a Squarespace customer (and a very happy one !) and I tried your idea, Mark - except that it was independently mine as well. What *I* found was that it was not workable for me. Perhaps my drafts were too long, but what happened was that I could not easily see where I was with any particular post. Nor indeed could I get a good overview of the draft posts outstanding.

January 7, 2008 at 18:49 | Unregistered CommenterFergus O'Rourke
Hi, Fergus

Thanks for letting us know your experiences with the blog drafts. It's working fine for me at present, but I haven't tried drafting any longer articles yet.

Time will tell!
January 8, 2008 at 11:42 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
As a postscript to my previous comment, I am finding it much easier to keep track of draft postings since I introduced a new Category called "Draft". That means I can pull up all my draft postings at once.

Since empty categories do not appear in the Blog Archive, visitors to the site are not aware of the existence of this category.
January 9, 2008 at 10:42 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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