Deleting Crappy Draft Posts

In the cold light of morning, I just deleted three draft blog posts that I wrote last night during a bout of insomnia.

Their titles are telling about what was on my mind at 1am in the morning.

  • SaaS + Transaction Fees
  • Games Are a Hits Business, But B2B SaaS Is A Grind
  • The B2B SaaS MRR Funding Dead Zone

I usually write posts in real time (like this one). I don’t have a lot of drafts stored up nor do I spent a lot of time editing and trying to get the posts just right. Instead, I use my posts to think out loud as I play with ideas, explore my thoughts, or just write what is on my mind. I generally do one edit pass after I’ve written the post and then hit publish.

When I have a thought that occurs to me during the day and don’t have time to write a post, I toss a title into my WordPress Drafts folder and add bullet points on what is in my mind to the body of the post. Each of the three posts above were in my WordPress Draft folder (which had 18 this morning and now has 15) which accumulated over the past two months. The number ebbs and flows as I use a draft about once a week to stimulate a post.

I jammed through all three of these last night – it was probably an hour of writing. I just read through them to see what I had written. I found a bowl of illogical word soup mixed with random crap. While there were plenty of interesting thoughts, the sum total of them was a giant pile of incoherence.

I started rewriting SaaS + Transaction Fees and then got bored. I realized it’d be better to just delete the crap and start over some time in the future when the urge to write about this hit me again.

Over the last twelve years of blogging I’ve deleted many draft posts. When I think about the books I’ve written, it probably takes 150,000 – 200,000 words to get a 50,000 page book. Highlighting something and hitting Cmd-X is second nature.

I often get asked how I write so much. As any writer knows, the answer is to write a lot more than you actually publish. Accepting that part of the process of writing is deleting a lot of what you write is soothing, at least to me.

Also published on Medium.

  • One thing I’ll say about you, Fred, and a couple other blogs I follow. You are all fairly decent writers, in the sense of having a command and some artistry with the language and this:

    I use this to teach my students about writing.

    • Thanks. The cliche “practice makes perfect” comes to mind. And I just keep practicing …

      • “If you had your way, noone that did not know how to generate MRR from a SAAS platform would be allowed to disgrace a SAAS platform by trying to generate revenue from it.” 😉

  • A timely reminder as I just deleted two draft posts that I planned few months back – ‘Entrepreneurs as role models?’ and ‘Morning vs Night Entrepreneurs’. The first second one called for some research that I could never do, and the first one often stacked behind another quick-to-mind post.

  • Writing is rewriting.

    Works of art are never finished, just abandoned.

  • jim

    FWIW I’d love to know your thoughts on SaaS + Transaction Fees!

    • Yeah – someday maybe…

  • Damn, Brad, I think all of those are GREAT posts. How can I help? I am going to write and send to you and hope that you will add your wisdom.

  • I hope those posts see the light of day! Not enough attention paid to B2B generally!

  • Brad, if you have time to reply to this, how long does it take you on average (in hours over so many months) to write those 200,000 words that eventually get boiled down into a final book? And how many times do you have to re-write/revise the first draft throughout the entire process, including dealing with the publisher, proofreader, etc.? Thanks.

    • It takes me about three to six months of elapsed time to write the first draft. I try to write two hours a day Monday through Friday for the core writing of the first draft. The editing and rewriting is very bursty – I tend to do it in long stretches on the weekend or block out half days for it during the week. I can’t edit / rewrite for too many days in a row, so it’s more like three days a week when I’m in that mode. I then have two copyedit / proof passes with the publisher – each is probably 20 hours of work.

  • I struggle if ever getting anything out of the draft box, I’ll write down one or two interesting points (at least that I felt were interesting) about a topic that got me thinking, and then when reviewing I don’t like what I’ve written very much and the post just seems too bare. Advice on how to get out of endless editing / never publishing?

    • Just public. You have to build that muscle. That’s the key. The first 1,000 blog posts that I published were uncomfortable each time. Now I don’t even notice the difference between sending an email and posting.

  • Redwoods

    Please do post the Saas Rev + Transaction Fees sometime.

  • Peter B

    Please write all three sometime, soon……

    • Maybe some day …

  • Brad, do you ever fear that what you once thought was a crappy draft wasn’t actually that bad? Or that those posts had some solid info that you could use in a future post, but it’s now gone forever?

    I tend to write like you – in real time – but I do start some drafts that I come back to later. But I try to avoid actually deleting them, since there may be good nuggets in there.

    • There are always nuggets in the crap but when the crap overwhelms it’s easy for me to delete and try again.

  • williamhertling

    I tend to utilize a high percentage of what I write. I might write 95,000 words to get a 90,000 word novel. Then I save those 5,000 words in hope of using them for another book. But I usually do a lot of that writing/rewriting in my head before I ever type it into a computer: I’ve got a couple of blog posts about feminism that have been bubbling around inside my head for months.

    When I think about it that way, it seems a little like extroverts versus introverts. The extrovert usually thinks out loud, by discussing things over with other people. The introvert usually considers something deeply in their head version, and then speaks out loud their conclusion.

    It also has to do with time. I have downtime when I’m driving, that I can use to think things over. When I’m sitting at my computer, I usually have a big task list of stuff to do. So I have less time to think with the keyboard in front of me, but lots of time to think without the ability to write it down.

    • The introvert / extrovert distinction doesn’t ring true since I’m a deep introvert. But a different modal distinction around the underlying dynamic (1: Thinks out loud, 2: Considers it deeply) definitely sounds right.

    • Cristy Vandenhende

      After reading the second paragraph, I thought am I an introvert or extrovert? Then I read the paragraph again and thought again…introvert or extrovert? What AM I? Now I am writing to ask you if there is such a thing as an introextrovert?

  • Brad, your comments about editing words down made me think of something a poet-friend of mine once told me. I had to reach out to him to get the reference (ironically at CU). The poet Ezra Pound edited a poem from 30 lines to just 14 words, forming one of the greatest examples of “Imagism” poetry. It’s an interesting way to think about the editing process.

    • Awesome example – love it.