Making the Cut

 By Shamus Nov 5, 2006 14 comments

WordPress, the software that runs this blog, assigns each post a number in the order that they are written. For example, this is post #744. According to the admin page, I’ve published 615 posts.

When it comes to my longer essay style posts, I usually let them simmer for a few days. On Day 1 I’ll type some sentence fragments of the points I want to make. Day 2 I’ll gather some URL’s and toss them in. Day 3 I’ll try to hammer the thing into some sort of prose. Day 4 I’ll read it over and decide if I still like it. If I don’t I toss it. If I do, I clean up and post it, sometimes rembering to spell-check. Lots of essays never make the cut. Somewhere in the chain of events I’ll just abandon it, or decide I don’t care, or that the idea is boring.

I didn’t think this happened very often, but going by the numbers WordPress is giving me it looks like I throw away a little more than one out of every seven posts. I’ve tossed 129 posts so far. The casualty list is actually a bit longer than that, since I have a few dozen posts that I’ve abandoned but haven’t gotten around to deleting.

Since the essay posts are the ones that get killed before they mature (smaller posts get written and posted in a single sitting) and since most of my posts are “small” posts, I would say my essay survival rate is probably closer to two out of three.

In retrospect this seems a bit wierd. Anyone else do this? How do you blog?

1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. GreyDuck says:

    If I’m going to do anything longer than a half-dozen paragraphs, and if I know I don’t have the time to bang it out in one sitting, I’ll write the entry in a separate text file before it ever sees WordPress’ posting system. This doesn’t happen often, as it turns out that I’m not a terribly prolific or wordy writer.

  2. I leave half-baked posts in the system, only mark them nonpublic to prevent them from being seen by aggregators.

  3. Wonderduck says:

    I’m a stream-of-thought publisher. I just go with what I write the first time, then go back over it once I’m done for any spelling errors I didn’t catch as I was writing it.

    The only posts that get an extended writing process are the ‘F1 UPDATES!’ They usually take between one and two hours to write up, mostly spent on the ‘Quotes of the Race’ section.

    The majority of the posts on The Pond take 20 minutes or less; I’m not trying to solve the problems of the world, just amuse myself and (hopefully) the readers.

    It may not create the Awe-Inspiring Posts of a SDB or a Shamus, but it works for me and the time I’m willing to put into it.

  4. bloopy says:

    i don’t actually use a blogging app and instead use a wysiwyg html editor. . . i have one html file with a list of possible topics and half-finished posts that didn’t make the cut. . . generally i’ll start writing something in that file and if i can’t hammer it out in an hour or two i’ll just leave it there, possibly to use or to pick at the carcass later. . .

  5. astro says:

    WordPress shows that I’ve written 1215 posts, and published 708. Some of those missing posts were mp3s that I put up a sort while for friends, then pulled to save bandwidth. Some of them were drunken rants that I pulled after I sobered up the next morning. I never delete them, and sometimes I’ll go back and rewrite some of them into new posts (‘picking the carcass’, as bloopy says..)

  6. Heather says:

    Wow, I have written 554 and only posted 250. Of course that doesn’t include all the writing I have elsewhere that may or may not end up as a post.

  7. Evil Otto says:

    “How do you blog?”

    As little as possible.

  8. Bonnie says:

    My method:

    Have deep meaningful thought
    Type thought
    Post thought
    Wait one hour
    Realize I am uncomfortable sharing deep meaningful thought
    Delete post
    Describe trip to grocery store

  9. David V.S. says:

    I have a few different styles:

    (1) Religious stuff, congregational: Occasionally I’ll have something from a recent sermon or discussion. Ususally this goes up quickly. My one exception is my second baby-naming discussion, for which I only spoke from an outline. This is the only thing that’s ever been (and still is) saved as a “draft” for while as I edit a bit now and then.

    (2) Religious stuff, not congregational: I read interesting things, and like to share them. I have a pile of dog-eared magazines and bookmarked books, but seldom dig into the pile unless I have a bit of free time.

    (3) Personal stuff: If I need to mentally process something, I use the blog to help me do so. For the past two months this has largely been about handguns. Now it’s switching to RPG stuff.

    (4) Tao of Yeshua: My translation of the Tao Te Ching I in theory am posting at the rate of a chapter per day, but I often forgot.

  10. David V.S. says:

    Oh, and I forgot…

    (5) Funny links: I accumulate these in my Firefox “Bookmarks” menu, and when I get a fair number try to combine them into amusing combinations.

  11. ubu roi says:

    Very sloppily. It works like this:

    Start off with a thought.
    Develop that thought for three paragraphs, then realize I’ve gone off on an entirely different tangent than I expected.
    Edit first two paragraphs to match new direction.
    Get sidetracked trying to find that link I read just the other day, so I can add it.
    End up reading a post at Steven’s or Shamus’ site. Leave a comment on yet another.
    Remember I’m five paragraphs into my own post, and need screenshots.
    If I was smart enough to take the shots ahead of time, pull them into a graphics program, resize, and save as .jpg. Repeat until done.
    Change my current upload directory under /omoikane/ and grumble about being so anal retentive that I have to make a folder for every series.
    Upload each of the captures. (A WP plugin auto-creates the thumbnails for me).
    Go back and add the picture to the post. Look at how badly it misaligns.
    Grumble that WP’s wysiwyg editor sucks, and open an html editor.
    Create a table structure, insert the text, transfer to WP.
    Curse that the plugin is stupid, because the link it returns is for the full-size version. Paste the link in, and edit to make it the thumbnail instead.
    Realize I’ve been at this for THREE FREAKING HOURS.
    Continue with the wrap-up to the post.
    Then add the links from the thumbnails to the full size pictures.
    Say to hell with it and post the article.
    Look at it on the site and realize that either the wysiwyg interface has screwed me again, or I have several horrible errors in composition, spelling, grammar, punctuation, or all of the above.
    Spend thirty more minutes editing and re-saving to fix everything.
    Realize it’s past 11pm.
    Scream in frustration (quietly, so as not to wake anyone).
    Repeat the next night….

  12. Mark says:

    I have a similar process, except I put most of my larval ideas into a single post which I call “upcoming posts.” Whenever I need an idea for a post, I hit that up and pick one of the topics.

    Depending on the subject and the anticipated length of the post, I’ll usually start with a skeleton of an outline. Sometimes this will incorporate a few links. Since I always post on Sundays (and only sporadically at other times), I’ll often do this skeleton during the week (the Sunday deadline also impacts my process in that I often don’t start until Sunday morning, and am thus obligated to finish that day). However, once I start writing, I usually go until I’m done. Occasionally I’ll need to take a break in the middle, but for the most part I get it done in one sitting (for the longer essays, this can be several hours). After the first draft, I’ll usually go over it again, looking for things I could link or points that still need to be made (or made better). Sometimes, I end up jettisoning an idea I wanted to cover in the post, but couldn’t fit in (these often land in the upcoming posts entry)

    It’s pretty rare that I write an essay without posting it within a few hours of completing it. If I finish it, chances are, I spent a lot of time on it and I won’t want to waste it. I’ve often found that I’m not tremendously happy with a post when I publish it, but when I go back and read it the next day, I’m usually pleasantly surprised.

    Right now, there are around 20 posts queued up in the upcoming posts entry, some of which have been there for quite some time and may never get written. Other ideas never even make it in there, and many seem interesting at the time, but are deleted later when I realize that I’m bored with the subject. As of right now, there are two other unpublished posts that have skeleton outlines, but haven’t been written yet. One is about a month old, and the other is over a year old (I think).

    Huh, I probably should have written this as a post on my blog (and may yet do so).

  13. I have a bunch of upcoming posts saved too. Right now, they go like this:

    - Collapse of promise: Ranma, Ai yori Aoshi (was it?), Windy Tales, Kamichu?
    - Anti-U.S. anime (hmm… only ROD?)
    - Say nasty things about bloggers? Login sucks!
    - Series which take a turn
    - Naruto greatness
    - Hierarchy of endings // on scale: resolves all :: resolves nothing
    - Banner of The Stars. The tension of combat. Seen before Azumanga.
    - YKK manga / anime
    - My life with Harem (the genre)

    Each needs lots of work.

  14. BeckoningChasm says:

    I blog in a drunken stupor. I comment that way, too!

    When I pulled my stuff from Blogger to WordPress, something went wrong so I did it again. As a result, I had about forty duplicate posts and my entry numbers were off by the same amount. I have no idea how many posts I have.

    My own posts are either written directly into WordPress (if they’re short) or I write them up in Word or Front Page (if they’re longer than six or seven paragraphs). Then I rip them out of said programs (to remove the formatting codes) and paste them into WordPress. Then I put the formatting codes back.

    One thing I miss about Blogger was the Word plugin. That made it all pretty easy.

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