The Vomit Draft


Over the years of this blog’s operation, I’ve been looking at ways to write posts more effectively.

My first few posts were done using what I learned in high school for essay writing, which was to write out a plan of the ideas of each section in bullet-points. You can see how that affected the final product, as my earlier posts are much more structured then my later ones.

I stopped doing that because I hate planning and structure as well as doing things that reminded me of high school. So instead I started writing these posts like how I write my code: just write the thing and refactor it later.

According to commenters on Hacker News this is called a “vomit draft”. Where you start sloppy and fix it later. It’s easier to see how truly a terrible thing could be improved than it is to just start working from a blank slate.

Generally when I come up with an idea for a post, I’ll write down a sentence (as well as any links I need) to remind me of it in my notes, but the entire post will be sitting in my head for days (or weeks even). Once I think it’s been developed enough, I’ll dump it from my brain and write down the entire thing at once.

Normally, the post is in a pretty bad shape. It’ll probably be really confusing where I haven’t explained my points very well, so I’ll work on fixing it. This also takes a few days as I’ll weigh up the worth of the post. There have been a few instances of posts that I’ve tried to fix up but have stayed as “vomit” no matter how much work goes into it. If that happens, then the idea of the post is probably flawed and I’ll scrap it. Here’s some examples of posts I couldn’t fix:

  • A Post About Video Games As Art
  • I Have Fixed Timekeeping And Await My Nobel Prize In Mathematics
  • You Suck At Python

These are all technically completed as the entire post has been written, but I don’t think they are of good quality so they will will never see the light of day[1].

I’ve found this process to work well so far. Although keeping several posts in your head can be hard to do as I’ll most likely forget some stuff, you know what they say: “If you forgot it, it probably wasn’t important”.

[1]: Maybe if I start a Patreon they’d be rewards.