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I Recently Went Through 4+ Years of Old Writing & Hundreds of Drafts

·696 words·4 mins

Hey folks,

As I’m writing this post, I’ve just gone back to work after a few days of much-needed time off (to see family members I hadn’t seen for over two years). It’ll likely be a few weeks to a month before you folks read this — since I have so many posts scheduled ahead.

Some of you might be aware by now, but for those of you who are newer to my blog and/or how I work: I am not typically spontaneously typing up a screed and pressing Publish in the heat of the moment.

Instead, I write my work up ahead and schedule it out. In the early days of this blog, I was lucky to have a few days written in advance. Other times, I’ve had as much as a month written out (this was the case when I underwent surgery, for example).

I typically work in several phases. Idea generation, outlining, writing the thing, and then editing it. Sometimes an idea or a partial draft will sit in my drafts folder for a while. To be completely honest, until a few weeks before I wrote this post, I had drafts in there from 2016.

Yeah, they had been sitting there for 5 years. I decided that was long enough. And so I started on a massive writing/organizational project — figuring out what to do with the 439 drafts I had just sitting there.

Yes, I Had 439 Drafts When I Started

Yes, you heard me, 439 drafts. And only 10 of those were from 2021. Now, that sounds bad… but to put it in context, when I started the project there were exactly 2200 published posts on my site. And 2200/2639 is an approximately 83.3% completion rate.

So in that light, that number is actually quite good. Means that I do finish most of what I start.

Looking over the folder, however, most of the drafts were from 2016 and 2017. And it occurred to me then that having mostly drafts from 4-5 years ago was not helpful. To put it another way, if I haven’t written it by now, then is it really something I should be writing?

So I went through and either deleted or finished every draft.

Some General Notes About the Drafts

Some of these drafts were quite easy to delete. Not because they were bad, but because I’d read them and realize I went on to independently write a very similar article later with a better hook or central metaphor.

And with one of the drafts, I literally wrote my third book ( Dealing with Difficult Metamours) on the topic, a project grew after I wrote this article and the readers asked me to write some more in the area.

Other ideas were interesting but not right for this blog. And some were frankly just bad ideas or more trouble than they were worth. (I can actually look and see how I got better at figuring out what I could write about as the years went on.) There were times when I had NO idea what I meant once upon a time by my (very incomplete) outlines.

But some of the ideas were actually quite good. And I finished those posts.

Finishing partial posts was sometimes an interesting process, especially if the draft was half-written or more. At times, it felt like having a conversation between the person I am now and the person I was years ago. Unsettling? A little. But fascinating — like the opportunity to be my own pen pal.

The Final Counts

So how many drafts did I keep/finish? How many did I delete?

I kept 44 of them (finishing 20 on the spot as I worked and doubling back for the other 24) and deleted 395 drafts.

This comes out to just under a 90% deletion rate. And honestly that’s what it felt like. There were some gems in there, but they were vastly outnumbered by posts that made me shake my head in a bad way. Sometimes I felt like I was macheteing my way through a thick jungle.

Now, I start fresh. It is a wonderful feeling.


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