Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Writer’s Drafts

drafts

Here on WordPress, us writers (I use that term loosely when describing myself) have the advantage of a Drafts ‘folder’. Just like with e-mails (or text messages), we can start to write something and if we get distracted or we grind to a halt, our work is safely saved for us*, so that we can return to it later and ideally complete it and Publish (or send) it. I’m adamant this wont happen with this post – I’ll write and post, no click to save to Drafts or clicking the little x before I’m done (that you’re reading this is evidence of my success).

That’s the idea anyway – the purpose of Drafts. *If you lose your internet connection by the way, then you can’t rely on this auto-Drafts feature. Drafting, as I’m sure you are aware, pre-dates the digital medium, and as Wikipedia explains:

Drafting is the preliminary stage of a written work in which the author begins to develop a more cohesive product. A draft document is the product the writer creates in the initial stages of the writing process. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_document

The ironic thing is that page on Wikipedia is itself incomplete and awaiting some citations. Not that I can mock.

In my Drafts folder here on WordPress I currently have 8 unfinished articles. These date back to February, five months ago. Glancing at the titles I actually can’t remember how far I got or even why I began writing about certain things – I guess this explains why they remain in the Drafts folder. I should delete them I suppose, but I think I’ll just leave them alone for now, I might get bored one day and decided to make a reattempt.

It’s not only within WordPress itself that I have this little hoard of unfinished articles, in fact most probably aren’t technically drafts, but little thought snippets, but I’ll continue to refer to them as drafts for the purpose of this topic. Shamefully I have such ‘draft’ files on my desktop. Some are simple Notepad text files, and some are OpenOffice documents of similarly uncompleted and unpublished work. The latter ones are generally of a more assertive attempt since I write them there to make use of the spell-checker which Notepad lacks. I have even discovered that some of the Notepad text files I have created are empty – I created a new file by right-clicking my Desktop and selecting New, and Text Document, typed in the title of a topic that had appeared in my mind and hit Return, with the intention on elaborating on that title at some point, except I didn’t.

It gets worse.

In my “Internet” directory of “My Documents” (yes I’m really this organised) I have a folder of published WordPress posts, and nearby is a folder of (I’m embarrassed now) porn. I joke, I mean, unpublished WordPress posts. In my defence, it’s easier to have a folder for my unpublished WordPress articles because some have pictures I plan to include with the intended post, so a folder keeps everything together. Nice, neat, and tidy, and out of sight. Not burning on my conscience at all. Nu-uh.

It gets worse still.

Away from my computer, well off it, but scattered round it, I have notebooks, post-it notes and scraps of paper, some are more away from my computer in other rooms of the house, in my work bag, on my memory stick in my work bag, again ranging from simple title ideas to almost complete “posts”. Actually, I try and avoid hand-writing blogable topics because I know what a chore and a challenge it is to type up the hand-written stuff, as I don’t write the same way I type. Really, try it. Write a post with an actual pen and paper, and then type it up. There will most likely be differences in the way you write. For one thing it’s not so easy to edit or backtrack as you write by hand, like using a typewriter (without major crossings out, or Tipp-ex (other brands of correction fluids are available) and arrows directing yourself to move a whole paragraph or sentence to another location later. Messy stuff. We’re aware of this, well subconsciously perhaps, and write differently. We’re perhaps more distracted in our writing/typing on a computer because there are other windows to flick to. Mid-sentence we might Google something (other good search engines are available), something we might not do so often when writing by hand. Perhaps the distractions are the killer.

Oh and I just remembered that I also have notes on my phone. It’s a simple phone, not with any capability to actually submit to WordPress, kind of pointless really, but yet another shameful method of drafting without seeing a topic through.

Actually, I’m thankful I’ve never possessed a Dictaphone (other brands of dictation machine are/were available), although I am aware that my phone has a voice-recording tool, as did one MP3 player I once owned, and there is also a microphone plugged into my computer. So I could start… but I wont. But returning to the Dictaphone thing. Thinking about that reminds me of films and TV shows where some nerdy person, like/or a scientist or crime scene investigator, uses a Dictaphone to record their findings. I probably aspired to that image, thinking it cool, yet I rarely saw them actually reviewing all the little cassettes they must create (obviously newer versions are digital and have no tape in), what a hoard they must have, just like my hoard of Drafts, so it’s surely not so bad. An example is in Star Trek with the Captain’s log (and The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon’s Log), how often are those logs played back? One counter example is in Back to the Future where the Doc and Marty record the time travel experiment (ok it was using a video camera and not a Dictaphone, but the purpose was the same, just more visual), and what was recorded was actually referred to and used later in the film (but in the past).

In referring back to the Wikipedia page I quoted before, I should perhaps work through the list it provides regarding the drafting stage… if only the drafting feature on WordPress included some additional features to guide writers through the hurdle that is “from draft to post”:

  • develop a more cohesive text
  • organise thoughts
  • explain examples/ideas
  • uncover transitions
  • discover a central argument/point
  • elaborate on key ideas

Further reading:

A couple of years ago I read the book The Shallows, which is about “How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember”. If you’re interested in how the internet distracts us, or even how we write differently with a pen and paper compared to on a computer, I recommend this book by Nicholas Carr [link].

Title image was found uncopywrited, although all rights reserved as it’s from the film Back to the Future (as you likely know), bla bla bla.

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