The whole idea of rough drafts is kind of foreign to me. I remember them being required when I was a kid but I can’t say the last time I actually wrote one. It always seemed inefficient and slow to write a rough draft, then revise it, then revise it again and then finally complete the final draft.
I always thought it made more sense to edit as you write, that way you only have to write one draft.
Maybe it’s because I had to write so many papers in college and grad school or maybe it’s because I don’t like wasting time on stuff I find pointless, but either way writing one draft is how I operate now.
Once I’ve captured my content and gotten in the zone, I write. As I write I re-read what I’ve written making sure there are no errors, grammatical or otherwise, and then I continue on until I’m done. By the time an article is ready for publication I’ve usually read through it 3 times, sometimes less.
I know this isn’t a groundbreaking procedure, especially when blogging, but I wanted to share it with you. You don’t have to write multiple drafts of a post, unless of course you want to. I just happen to think that editing while you write is more efficient.
My workflow for capturing content and knowing when and where I write my best allow me to do a lot of thinking before I write. So when it’s time to write I already have a pretty good idea of what I want to say, all I’ve got to do is get it down on the screen and hit publish.
Now, if there is a post that I’m working on that I want to take my time with, for whatever reason, I do use the EditFlow plugin. I also use this to manage ideas I have for posts that I’ve not yet published.
EditFlow is a free plugin, which we also use on WP Daily, that allows you to save posts under multiple categories in the editorial process. It is designed for sites like WP Daily that have many authors. Editors can leave comments for the authors on the post, add suggestions, tweak content, and then publish the finished project. It’s pretty slick.
I use EditFlow as a repository and staging area for my future posts. As you can see from the screen shot, I’ve got 36 in the ‘Pitch’ category, which in my ecosystem means I’ve got 36 ideas for future posts that I’m sitting on. These are ideas that I haven’t had the time, desire or requisite research to write yet.
I don’t use the ‘Assigned’ category, unless I’ve got someone who is going to write a guest post for my blog. The ‘In Progress’ category is where I store any posts that are, you guessed it, still in progress. This only gets used if I get interrupted while writing and have to stop.
The ‘Drafts’ category, which currently has 181 posts in it, is where I am currently storing articles from a huge project I’m working on.
‘Pending Review’ is where guest posts go for a final review before they are published on my blog.
‘Scheduled’ is obviously where posts that are scheduled for publication sit until they go live.
Using this system works well for me, especially in the capturing of content. I can move my ideas from my notebook into the pitch category and then execute on that idea when I have time and/or inspiration. If I can’t finish it in one shot, which is rare, I’ve got an ecosystem that can handle that.
One of the best features is that in one glance I can know exactly where I stand on all my future posts. It works incredibly well for me.
I know that how I work isn’t exactly how you work, but I do hope that I’ve encouraged you to think through your editorial process and to identify what you do and why you do it. These are important questions to answer.
I know I still have a lot to learn about the writing process and I’d love to hear some of your wisdom. So please share your editorial process in the comments!