On writing systems

My previous post touched upon how systematizing the process of writing enabled more consistent blogging. In this post, I’d like to expand on this topic.

I didn’t have a writing problem. I had a habit problem.

It was an article on Riskology about the system of writing that provided a breakthrough, and the right vocabulary to understand the problem. I realized that I had a hard time getting into the groove of writing because I was writing, editing, uploading photos, and tweaking HTML at the same time. In actuality, publishing a post has several distinct steps, and doing them one by one streamlines the whole process. Most importantly, it distributes creative energy to where it’s most needed.

My process is a simplified version of what Riskology proposes but there are still three steps: 1. Plan 2. Draft and 3. Publish. The tip is that each should be done on a different day.

So on the days that I’ve made time to blog, I will work on two posts – one that’s in a Planning phase and another that can be Drafted or Published.

Plan
Planning is the burst of inspiration, and takes the shortest amount of time. I’ll map out the post and do some Googling so that the research is more or less done.

I keep a list of ideas and assign one day in which I’ll do the planning for the next post:

  • what is the topic?
  • why do i want to write it?
  • what is the outline?
  • research
  • links

For example, here’s the Plan for this post:

It helps to keep the planning out of the actual CMS. I’ve been using GatherContent, which I’ve hacked to use as a workflow tool.”.
Draft

Drafting is the actual act of writing. Because there’s already an outline, it’s really easy to start putting down words. And there’s no pressure to finish it – I just want to get to the end of the post.

This step takes the most time and involves the following:

  • create the page in WordPress
  • upload photos
  • upload cover image
  • write the first draft – get to the end!

The first draft happens in WordPress because I like stylin the body as it expands. In the future, I hope to graduate to a markdown editor so that I decrease the amount of time spent checking the preview.

Publish

Publishing includes making the final draft with a fresh pair of eyes, and hitting Publish. Initially I had four steps, but three days are long enough to spend on an article… better to just get it out.

  • finalize the draft in WordPress
  • publish it
  • schedule a tweet

So that’s what I’ve been experimenting with in the past few weeks. There will be refinements for sure but it’s a good enough foundation!