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The Ghosts in Your Dashboard

It takes time and perspective to write or create something, and sometimes you might find you’re in the right space to tackle a post from the past.

Your WordPress.com dashboard is the nerve center of your blog: it’s where your ideas come to life, and your creativity gives them shape. As writers, artists, and thinkers, we know inspiration can be sporadic and those moments of genius are fleeting — they come and go, which means that sometimes your literary flame burns out, and those bursts of creation are short-lived.

The result? An abandoned idea. The dreaded draft, sitting in limbo, staring back at you. And so, we’re curious: what’s lurking in the drafts section of your dashboard?

Go to Posts » All Posts in your dashboard. At the top, you’ll see links like this:

Drafts

Well, look at that — I have 46 unfinished posts in my dashboard! How about you? Scroll down and scan these unpublished treasures: you may re-discover a piece of memoir you couldn’t finish at the time, an incomplete gallery of images from last summer’s vacation, or a post you’ve simply forgotten.

We ditch posts for many reasons; maybe you felt uninspired and got bored. But sometimes, it takes a bit of time and perspective to write or create something, and you may find you’re in the right space to tackle a post from the past. So, sift through this list and consider these options:

  • Click “Edit” on a specific post and continue where you left off.
  • Open up and read each draft, and then create a new post from all that you’ve read.
  • Pull fragments from different drafts and craft “found poetry” from your dashboard detritus.
  • Run a writing challenge on your blog: post the draft and ask your readers to finish it. They can publish the finished product on their own blogs and link to their submissions in your comments.
  • Ask for help! Post the draft and insert a poll at the bottom of your post, asking for feedback on how to improve or complete it. (We’ll talk more this month about using polls, so stay tuned!)
  • Transform writer’s block into something productive, like writing about why you can’t write. Seems silly, but it gets you typing. I even have a draft in my dashboard titled “False Starts,” in which I compiled the first paragraphs of all of my drafts into one post, one after the other, in an attempt to create something out of unripe ideas:

False Starts

We’re curious about what lurks in your dashboard — tell us in the comments, and if you plan to revisit something!

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  1. I don’t have any drafts for my blog but on my hard drive there are drafts of stories that are ready to be revised, edited and posted, ideas to be properly formed, story titles and the little thoughts and bits of research I have saved in Evernote. I write to post. If I don’t finish I delete it. I have this thing where I keep the window [be it MS Word, Live Writer, Chrome, etc] open as long as possible until I either finish a thought completely or give up on it.

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  2. it would be interesting to know the average drafts in the pending folders! i think mine is around 20,but reaching that folder in the daytime (slow internet) hours would be a painful task!

    i will try later and thow one out for the readers to finish! thanks for that suggestion! z

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  3. I have about 59 in my drafts. Most of them will be finished and released through the next couple months. I am scheduling some to be released through the rest of the week. I have a couple of them that I can combine. Thanks to this post, maybe I will kick it up a notch and complete all of them!

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  4. I don’t have too many drafts but I have lots and lots of post in Word Documents. I, too, almost always have something I can write about but now that’s it’s summer I’m trying to get a backlog so I can schedule a few posts at a time. I import them from my Word Document and then schedule them for a few weeks out. I’m trying to pace myself as well.

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  5. That is true, sometimes we all do experience writers block. I may just be starring at my desk and computer or i may feel like doing just nothing, but i do prevail it by going on a stroll, playing some funny video games or just having a short nap .

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  6. I just checked and I’ve got 36 drafts. Didn’t know I had that many. Most have gone on to be full posts, which was why I thought the number was more like 8!

    My most recent post is at least two drafts linked together.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have any drafts in my dashboard. Because I’m terrible at finishing work, and because I usually completely kill myself with perfectionism, I made a vow here from day 1: every post, whether finished or not, whether crafted or fragmentary, would be published within 24 hours. So in real life I’m still limping along with too many unfinished drafts, but WordPress is showing the way to making them viable more quickly, with less shame.

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    1. Remember the Pareto principle?
      20%=80% – 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results so: is it worth all the agonising to get to perfection – & will you ever get to perfection?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. lol – and I thought the ‘craft “found poetry”’ was a function in the dashboard somewhere. 🙂
    There really isn’t one, is there…
    Dang – I thought I had a use for all my drafts!

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    1. ah, but you do, Anne! Take the strongest lines from your drafts, and arrange them into your found poem. You’ll be delighted at what emerges; most likely it will have nothing at all to do with any of the original writing but will find its way into a third magical place

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  9. I have no drafts in mine – I draft in Word, because I had a couple of nasty early experiences of losing chunks I was writing. And for the last fortnight weird things have been happening when I try to change from ‘text’ to ‘visual’. So I’m playing it safe and keeping the words separate, just adding links and pictures when I paste it into a new post in WordPress.

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  10. Oh my, our draft folders share the same weightiness. I have 50 in mine, and I love each and every one of them equally. My draft section is like the “save for later” option in my amazon cart 🙂 I go back to it everyday and am rejoiced at the sea of options. I pick one, click Edit and off I go. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with Drafts, but I know not everyone shares the same opinion. Whether we embrace it or avoid it, it remains a very useful tool. Sometimes, the magic only kicks in later, and I have learned to be patient and press “save draft” instead of pushing myself to publish right away. I hate forcing the completion of anything 🙂

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    1. Sometimes, the magic only kicks in later, and I have learned to be patient and press “save draft” instead of pushing myself to publish right away. I hate forcing the completion of anything.

      +1 — I feel the same, and have a similar approach 🙂

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  11. I love my drafts. They usually only take a few minutes to wrap up – which allows me to post something on the days when I have no time to write from scratch. They’ve saved me more than once in the last couple of months.
    \o/

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  12. Reblogged this on From Slacker To Scribe and commented:
    Writing about why I can’t write can be so helpful. Another thing I’ve done is write dialogue between myself and boredom, as well as write a story about myself fighting against the force of Writer’s Block. It’s fun to get that creative frustration out of your system, and it brings on more creativity for poetry, prose, screenwriting, etc.

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  13. I’d not even thought about using the draft option! When I find that I’m short on time, while writing a piece, I say to be continued or coming soon. But using the draft option, coming back to it and polishing it off..seems like something that would work great for me & my busy schedule. I’m so glad your tips come up in my reader..Thanks for sharing

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  14. I have a few posts that I haven’t finished, as I can’t. They’re mostly about my past, and I don’t want to hurt or upset people. So they sit there. As I wait to finish them…

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    1. Thanks for your comment — I have had similar experiences trying — and failing — to finish bits of memoir, when it didn’t feel right to finish them, or like you said, they involve other people. Sometimes those stories just aren’t finished. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting them sit. Perspective is a heck of a thing — someday, some of these posts may be ready. And if not, it’s always interesting to dive into points in our pasts in this way.

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  15. I used to have several drafts, but I either finished or deleted most of them. Right now, I have only one, which I started working on back in March. It’s been mocking me ever since. The draft is about characterization, the kind of thing I’ve done many times before, and yet I just can’t quite make this one work.

    Maybe I’ll bang that one out tonight. I need to do it eventually, why not now?

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  16. I have 7 sitting as drafts…all semi completed….my mind was wandering and I just could not gather my thoughts….or I felt it was not good enough to post…
    I look at them now and think if I were to post them my blog would go from my random day to day life to relationship based…not sure I want to totally revamp my blog in that direction…
    Although sometimes I wish I had started my blog with more focus…

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    1. I have a couple drafts. I get ideas and like to grab them, shape them while the brainstorm is still there. I don’t publish that often since I want to create quality stuff. Sometimes along the way I find/take a more interesting photo so the draft gets changed in that way.

      I do finish what I begin and probably because I don’t need to ove-rchannel, drain my Muse so often. So blogging is fun creativity for me –with a purpose and focus for an audience.

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      1. Thanks for adding your thoughts here. I actually don’t publish often at all — my current goal is once a month, if that, so I certainly let my thoughts simmer. Sometimes it takes months for me to finish a post.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Ok true confession time. I only have one draft at the moment, and the most I’ve ever had was three. It made me too nervous to have them sitting there because I was worried I would hit the publish button accidentally. I did it once, I could do it again…
    But I do like the idea of having stuff to go back to because write now, no righting is coming to me… 🙂
    Maybe I could mark them private?

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  18. brrrr…I do feel a draft coming on. Or maybe three, since I have three (count ’em!) blogs. Maybe I could combine the three and create a huge whirlwind for each blog.

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  19. I keep a Notepad file on my hard drive for saving half-formed ideas, random lines, brainstorming lists, and other nascent entries-to-be till they’re ready for expansion. I don’t save drafts too often because leaving a 1000-word entry half-finished drives me nuts. The few times I’ve allowed that, they sit there glaring back at me with an imagined look that says, “FINISH ME! FINISH MEEEEE!”

    However…it’s funny that this subject should come up: I have exactly one draft saved at the moment that I’ve been meaning to flesh out since April 28th, but I kept postponing because I had other time-sensitive items I wanted to tackle first. Now that most of those are behind me, tonight that draft shall finally become a real, live entry. 🙂

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  20. I only have a few drafts, but I don’t like the things in there. I just wasn’t feeling them at the time and I am still not. I do like your idea of using them for a post, though. I could have a montage of bad ideas!

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  21. I have 13 drafts, three of them are unfinished daily prompt posts. I completely forgot what I would write on them and since it is now too late to continue the former daily prompts, I guess, I would just overlook them for now. let see if I can turn them into something else later.
    The other drafts are unfinished in-the-middle-of-the-rain photography which I started quite a while back, some fantasy series which is now being postponed because I was running out of ideas back then, and I am now, and stories about my surroundings including me.
    I wonder when I can continue these abandoned posts.

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  22. Nothing. I seem able to hold onto a draft for no more than a few minutes. After writing something, up comes a compulsion to publish it right away. I manage just enough patience to read it a few times, correct spelling, grammar or syntax errors, swap out active verbs for passive ones, etc.

    Finally satisfied I exclaim “Perfect!” and hit Publish. Only to find several more errors I anxiously correct, while racing the clock against the first time someone reads it.

    Why do I put myself through that? OK, maybe I’ll keep working on the issue and trying to do better.

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  23. 10 drafts sitting there currently. I suppose now is as good a time as any to get in there and finish at least one of them up!

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  24. I keep no ghost (actually only few seconds to minutes) in my Dashboard, as I only have All(2)|Published(2) for Pages and All(100)|Published(100) for Posts.

    I organize/ accumulate resources under my own document folders, like \My WordPress 83 to 168\100 Recyclable #4 (2013), to keep WordPress free from clutter.

    My completed drafts normally get scheduled/ published, and the storage space that I have used so far (including images) is still at zero percent level (or 0.003%).

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  25. I don’t have any drafts in limbo, but then I haven’t been blogging all that long. However, I have an awful lot of paper notebooks with bits and pieces of writing in them, and among the rambling and waffling, there may be ideas and passages worth mining, or fragments worth expanding on. I just have to find the right piece to set me going…

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