Tuesday, 13 August 2013

On blogging and a triple-figure draft box

This is a kind of meta-blog. Nothing to do with the topic of the blog, but just about the way I write it.

The important thing with blogging, and probably all publishing, is to create constant output. Writing is easy. Anybody can do it. You don't even need to be able to use a pen any more. Publishing is more difficult, and publishing writing that everybody will read is the most difficult.

The internet has made publishing much easier. All you need is a computer with an internet connection, then you can get your words of wisdom out to the masses. Of course they may not read it. You cast your bread upon the water, and it floats for a while, then gets soggy and sinks without trace.

In fact most people will definitely not read it. Even if you're very famous and have the most popular blog in the webiverse, it's still only going to be read by the tiniest fraction of a very small percentage of users. 

Anything that can make it easier to get the writing out of your computer and onto the internet is a great help. The thing that really makes it easier, of course, is having done it. Once you have got stuff out, it's easier to get more stuff out; once you've decided that it's good enough, and you don't really need to check it for the twenty-ninth time to find more mistakes and better ways to rewrite sentences that have ceased to have any meaning. Because of course however many times you look at it, there will always be a way of changing it to make it better. There will always be parts that you can rephrase, words that you can cut to make it more fluid and easier to understand, extra bits of information or commentary that you can add. If Shakespeare was alive today he'd probably still be rewriting his plays. At least after scratching the lid off his coffin.

Mechanically speaking, the biggest improvement in workflow was using Gmail. Now I start writing blog posts as emails. They sit in my drafts box where I revisit them a few times. I send them directly to Blogger, which holds them as drafts. Then I can go into blogger and check for typos and add any photos and formatting before adding labels, scheduling the publishing date, and hitting the publish button. Perhaps there is a way to add photos while it is still an email, and add the meta data such as labels, but I don't know what it is.

This is part of the reason why the number of emails in my drafts box has been heading towards 200. It went over 100 about a year ago. It used to be around 60. I can remember when I tried to keep it below 30. Most of these emails are half-finished or half-started blogs about the house. One of them just says: "Eco cute: Changed back to middle boiler temperature - January 22nd" in the title, with nothing in the message. Obviously a useful bit of information. At least I thought so back in January, 2012. 

I just went through the draft box and in a couple of minutes deleted 15 that are either too late to send or have been waiting so long that they obviously don't need sending. The delete button is a wonderful thing.