The ‘Draft’ folder.
The folder of unmet expectations, failed dreams and crippling self-doubt. Just kidding. (But it’s true)
I have years and years of drafts of my writings, unpublished, all lined up like tortured prisoners waiting to see the sun. (These are just a few snapshots — not including the ones I have in my physical notebooks)
It hurts to think of the drafts. They’re evidence of my failure to finish things and my inability to overcome self-doubt.
But on the other hand — they’re also evidence of my many ideas. Evidence that I’m trying my best to write good things and share them with people. Evidence that I’ve already done most of the work — now they just need a little bit of polish before they see the sun.
So I choose to be kind to myself and choose to patiently polish some of these posts so that I can finally turn them from ‘Draft’ to ‘Published’. Here’s how I plan to do it:
1) Give yourself permission to move a draft to the ‘Trash’.
Sometimes an idea comes knocking and it seemed so good in your head. But when you actually explore the idea and start writing about it, you find that it bores you. Writing it suddenly becomes a huge chore and you’d rather mop your kitchen floor than finish writing it.
In that case, give yourself permission to quit. Stop writing and pick another topic. What you’ve writing won’t go to waste because now you’ve solidified your thoughts and those solid thoughts will stay with you (even if you delete the draft). Or if it feels to drastic to delete, archive the post and stop feeling bad about it.
I’ve given myself permission to only finish writing on topics that I’m actually excited about. This is my blog, why the heck should I bore myself?!
In the words of cute petite tidy Japanese lady, Marie Kondo, “does this spark joy?” If the answer is no, say thank you and move on so that you can finish a draft that you actually like.
2) Narrow the scope of your writing to one person only.
I have a confession. I haven’t been posting as much because I felt that whatever I’ve written, is NEVER ENOUGH. Yep, I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to please everybody and feeling scared that I’m not good enough to please everybody.
This is a struggle that a lot of people share. Instead of trying to write about what YOU experienced, you start thinking of other groups of people that might read the post. Oh, I have to give these examples for people with children! Oh, I have to make sure that teenagers feel included! Wait, must make my examples applicable for both genders! What if the readers don’t like this genre/style/cuisine?
OVERWHELMING! In the end, you’re not gonna finish writing because you can’t cover everyone and you’re in despair.
Don’t worry about trying to be relevant to all kinds of people. Focus on one person: YOU. Your readers will find their own meanings in your words.
I’ve realized that writing becomes helpful and therapeutic only if you look and listen inwards. Once you focus too much on other people, your inner voice becomes distorted and your writing won’t feel like you anymore.
3) Speed through it, no time to second-guess.
This is one of my favourite methods to use when I’m stuck like a fat cat. Doesn’t matter if it’s an Instagram post, a blog post or even a work email, I find that speeding through it is the best cure to finish writing a draft.
Why speed through? Because you’re racing against that self-doubt. Before it sets in and makes you question every single line, finish the writing. Get the words out of your head and into the page and leave the worrying to later.
Once you’re done, 1) you’re actually DONE and 2) you’ll discover that your first draft is actually more than enough, more than WORTHY to be published.
The result is that you build confidence in your own writing. You discover that you can, in fact, crank out words like a factory.
Oh, did I mention my favourite free tool to help me speed through? It’s called The Most Dangerous Writing App. I swear by it.
4) Tell people about the draft, and promise publicly that you’ll publish.
Whenever I need that one final push to edit a draft and publish, I like to make promises to my followers.
”I’ll send you the link to my blog post on xxx tomorrow!”
Not saying I always keep my promises! But 60% of the time, I follow through in publishing the draft because I’ve said something to my followers. The way I see it, 60% is better than 0%.
Why does this work? It’s easier to let yourself down than to let other people down. If it’s just you and your draft, you can just say “tomorrow” 200x times and nothing will change.
But if it’s you + draft + other people, you can’t run anymore. You have to stick to your word or else bruise your own pride. This is called public accountability.
Full disclosure: I tried doing this for my weight loss goal. Didn’t work. I think weight loss is too multifaceted to rely on this method alone.
For something that’s not multi-faceted like a blog post draft though, this works fine.
Sometimes you feel like it’s impossible to finish and you have no idea WHY. I get it. There’s an invisible roadblock in front of us, like a thin layer of clear plasma in sci-fi movies. You just need a good last push.
Wanna know something amusing? This post, the one you’re reading right now, is a draft from November 2017. It’s been well over a year but the perspective I have now is: Good ideas don’t expire.
If you have a few, now’s the time to take them out for a polish and publish them. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you! :)
Do you usually go back to old drafts or start new ones? Leave a comment!