My secret to publishing every single day — stick to 3 drafts

Do you know what stops people from publishing blog posts? What stops people from sharing their work and putting it out there for the world to read and enjoy? I do. It’s fear. You’re terrified that your work isn’t good enough.

When you’re starting out as a writer, you don’t have anyone there to hold you accountable as your editor — you don’t have a team behind you that can push and pull you over the deadline, and you’ve got nobody who’s going to tell you to stop writing and hit publish.

Which means you can keep on editing and revising your work over and over again, changing things and changing them back. In your mind, you’re making your work perfect, but you’re really just stagnating.

You’re not calling it a day and you’re not signing off on it, so you’ll never hit publish. When people ask you why they can’t read more of your work, the answer you’d give if you were really honest, is that you’re just not ready.

You’re not ready to publish and share your work in its current state, as though all your work can only be perfect or it’s not worth doing.

I am incredibly prone to this. That’s why I’ve developed a pretty simple rule, that I follow almost religiously.

I only ever allow myself 3 drafts of any blog post.

  • One to write the post
  • One to edit and revise
  • One to do a final version before publishing

When I’ve finished writing the first draft, that’s one down. When I go back to edit, that’s 2 down. When I do the final draft, that’s 3 — and then my work has to be published.

The rule stops me from chasing perfection

If I’ve blown into 3 drafts, even if I don’t think my post is good enough, even if I hate it, even if I think it’s missed the point of what I was trying to say, I’ll go ahead and hit publish, and deal with the consequences.

This isn’t easy to do, because of course I’d like to publish only the work that I think is perfect — but it’s a simple way for me to beat that part of me that doesn’t want to hit publish, every single day.

It stops me from second guessing

The 3 draft rule is designed to take away any temptation to fiddle with my work and keep messing with different ideas and phrases. It’s designed to stop me from going and reading someone else’s work and thinking shit — their post is better than mine, I’d better go back and make a bunch of changes.

If I’m not allowing myself to go back and go back and keep revising, I have to stand by my work. I have to just say yeah, I’m proud of this the way it is, and I think I did a good job. It’s a lot healthier than constantly comparing my work and second guessing myself.

It makes me think carefully about what I’m doing

The beauty of it is, when I only allow 3 drafts, it makes me think very carefully about what I’m writing, what I’m editing and why. There’s little room for revisions, so the actual work of writing and redrafting is a lot more focused, and it has more direction.

Thinking carefully about each post stops me from just churning out content on autopilot, it ensures that I’m mindful about my work. Mindfulness is important, and without it, I’d just end up creating blog posts for the sake of it, instead of creating them to grow as a writer and to help people.

It stops me from rambling pointlessly

I don’t like publishing posts that don’t have a point. When I’m writing with a strict 3 draft rule, I can’t just ramble or add things because they sound nice, or go off on tangents, because I know that all that crap has to get edited out anyway.

It complicates my posts, if I don’t stay on target and stay clear and simple, and that complication always clashes with my 3 drafts. It’s harder to edit ruthlessly when you’re faced with a lot of superfluous crap, when you’ve got a post full of twists and turns that are out of control.

A rule like this works particularly well for startup blogs, where perfection is never the end goal — writing shit that people want to read is the end goal. If you’re building a company blog for your startup, this rule is going to keep you short, sharp and focused.

For any other bloggers, it ties into something I try to talk about pretty regularly — don’t let yourself get cosmic.

Don’t get too caught up in how amazing you want your work to be, because if you wait until you believe it’s “finished” you’ll be waiting the rest of your life. Sometimes you just have to publish and go hands off. The 3 draft rule can get you there.

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