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Blog Exercises: Making Drafts Work For You Not Against

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.During a year of teaching WordPress in college and at workshops and training events, I may help a minimum of 300 people set up WordPress.com sites annually. As they add content to their site, filling in all the blanks, they often publish content not quite ready for prime time, capped with a note-to-self to “fix this later.”

Draft posts in WordPress featuring the number of draft posts for Blog Exercises by Lorelle VanFossen.

Later doesn’t come fast enough when your site is visible to the public. I recommend that you set those types of posts as Drafts instead of leaving the content public, half-finished, and start using the Drafts feature in a more effective and powerful way.

In this blog exercise, I want to offer tips on how to use the Draft feature of WordPress and other web publishing platforms to help you fill in all those blanks and fix them before the world sees them. I also want to help you change the way you look at Drafts.

Drafts are interesting things. They are literally a list of posts you haven’t finished, yet they become nags, energy suckers, reminders of things left undone, evidence of your failure to finish or tendency towards procrastination, left undone until that “rainy day” arrives.

Let’s turn the concept of Drafts into a power tool on your site, especially as you prepare or revise your site for the public.

New Purpose for Drafts

Draft posts in WordPress featured in date order - Lorelle VanFossen Blog Exercises Example.The first thing you need to do on your site is check all your Pages, the pseudo-static web pages often required on websites, as well as ones we create to support our subject matter. Look for parts left undone or with placeholder text (“Fix this later” or “XXXXXXX” or “Add more here”) and complete the information or put the Page in Draft mode.

Consider the Pages in Draft mode as top of your task list.

If you have some posts you have published with placeholder “things to do” notes, dig those out of your site and complete them or put them into Drafts, adding to your To Do List.

Go through your Draft posts and complete any worth completing. If they need to stay as Drafts, leave them there, but set the publishing date into the future. The post will not publish as long as it remains a draft, but the date will hopefully nag you as a deadline.

If there are posts worth pitching, trash them. Some ideas were good in the moment but may not be worth following through on.

When your Draft list is cleaned up, it’s time to change your attitude towards them.

Here are some ideas to help you turn your Draft posts list into a powerful tool rather than a procrastination nag.

  • To Do List: Instead of using Drafts for throw away posts and Pages, use them as a To Do List that must be checked off.
  • Idea List: Treat your Drafts like an idea list. Write down as much of the idea as possible in rough draft, brain dump form to help you remember it when you come back to edit, clean it up, and finish it later.
  • Drafts as Editorial Calendar: As an editorial calendar, WordPress Drafts work well. When a draft is created or modified, the date is displayed in the far right of the All Posts screen. Drafts are listed in reverse chronological order, allowing you to create a post order from the bottom up. The dates may be set in the future with the future posts feature, keeping you on track as to the date you expect to publish the post.
  • Task Lists: A professional blogger friend keeps her tasks and plans in Draft Posts. She has them titled “Things to Do,” “Ideas,” and “Article Series.” She edits them to add new information and remove completed tasks, and update links to published posts, keeping everything inside WordPress. There are WordPress Plugins that will add task lists and checklists to the Administration Panels, but this technique serves her well.
  • Drafts for Multiple Contributor Sites: I’ve talked to editors at multiple contributor sites that use WordPress Drafts to plan their publishing schedule and to keep fellow authors informed as to what each other is working on. Each author starts their project as an outline or rough draft with notes and sets a publishing date in the future. The post is saved as a Draft while they work on it, then they set it to publish in the future, at which time the editor may change the date and time if necessary. This avoids duplicate topics or helps the other writers find related story ideas as the site develops.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to take another look at drafts in your site, be it WordPress or another content management system, and find a better way to use the Draft feature – a positive way – to keep you focused and on track.

Don’t let the Drafts haunt you. Make them work for you.

If you come up with some novel ways to use the Drafts feature, share it with us.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

6 Comments

  1. Posted August 7, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Great Lorelle. Actually I have been working with drafts. I mean lots of draft. If there are ideas coming up i just put them into draft to elaborate later. The point is i limit the draft. I will not tolerate drafts up to 4 in my blog. This keeps me focus and doesn’t stress me out of seeing undone pieces of writing there. So, if i want to generate writing in a day i just simply put 2-3 drafts to complete in the very day.

    Btw, your post is very good. Keep sharing :)

    • Posted August 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Glad you put a limit on how many you use and recognize their value. Good for you!

  2. Posted August 7, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    This is such a great idea! Thank you for this post. :)

  3. amelied
    Posted August 8, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle

    I think this is only my second time commenting on your posts/tutorials. Sorry about the lack of feedback to such a wonderfully rich resource :(

    When creating future blog posts on my creative blog, I regularly use Draft Posts in conjunction with a Folder on my Desktop. When I see a wicked idea or link or photo I add them to the desktop folder or create a new draft on my blog. How do I delineate this choice?

    Time!

    If I have lots of time at the point of discovery – then I start writing a post in draft mode.
    If I have limited time, then I open a word document, copy & paste the link/photo/idea and then save it in the desktop folder.

    Once a month I usually go and do a clean out (both of the Drafts & Desktop Folder) as part of my ‘housekeeping’ schedule for my blog . . . a schedule built in direct response to your posts !!!

    Thanks for more wisdom. <3
    Pia xxx

    • amelied
      Posted August 8, 2013 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      BTW – I also use the Desktop Folder as a source for quick posts on other Social Media sites, if I am stuck for an idea ;)

    • Posted August 8, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Thank you for chiming in.

      As for folders on your Windows Desktop, please make that a shortcut to the folder within “My Documents” or something off the desktop as some backup programs do not back up the desktop adequately unless you specifically instruct them. Storing files to your Desktop is dangerous because of that. Make them shortcuts and make the original stay safe in a secure spot on your hard drive.

      Adding the information to any folder is fine, but you are literally copying information as a web page or something, from the sound of it, instead of putting the information in a master file. Consider keeping a note keeping program up like a powerful text editor (I recommend NoteTab Pro or Notepad++) to copy and paste the link and your thoughts about the issue into the same document creating a vast to do list. Put some lines like ++++++++++ or ====== to separate each idea, then work on them in the text editor when you are ready and paste them into WordPress. This saves messing around with the crap that word processors put into WordPress posts and Pages (even when you use the Paste from Word or paste into the Text Editor features) and makes the process faster.

      There are many ways to get to the same goal. Everyone comes up with their own process so it helps to explore all the different ways people are stockpiling ideas, and using the Drafts is just one.

      Thanks.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] (not publish) every evening and improve skills with drafts: adding ideas in short paragraphs, references and links, and create a master […]

  2. […] Blog Exercises: Making Drafts Work For You Not Against […]

  3. […] Blog Exercises: Making Drafts Work For You Not Against « Lorelle on WordPress […]

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