Time to Detox Your Medium Draft List

A small tip that can change everything

The writer’s version of a juice cleanse, but without the potential health repercussions.

The Great Purge

Since starting out on Medium almost a year ago, I’ve managed to accumulate around 100 draft titles. Whether that’s normal, totally excessive or not enough, I don’t know. What I do know is that when I look at my list of drafts, it frustrates me.

It frustrates me because a long list of incomplete work signals lack of focus and wrong direction. It reminds me of the time I was excited to write the article – an excitement only to disappear a couple days later.

But before I get onto the wider question of draft-to-publish conversion, it’s time to mention the solution to the above frustration.


Head onto Medium, suck it up and click delete, because the more empty titles we build up and leave to simmer, the more pressure we’ll feel from the sense of incompletion. We all compare ourselves to the utopian ‘daily Medium writer’ — the active creator who bangs out a well-researched and conclusive article a day. We can achieve this, but we need to convert.

Have a look through your drafts and read what you’ve written for each. Keep the titles you know you’ll comfortably revisit, and sack off the nevers. I’m also suggesting to sack off the stagnating, semi-finished drafts — the 500 word-ers sitting in your list for the last 5 months. These do no good for morale, so bin them.

It’s good to keep title ideas and notes to accompany those titles, but stick your titles somewhere outside of Medium; somewhere more accessible. Bunch them up so you can see how many you’ve got on the go, and pick the one(s) you want to pursue at that moment in time. Don’t start too many at once. Make it easy for yourself to monitor your current work without the overwhelming feeling of 100 part-completed drafts piling up on your chosen creative platform (in this case, Medium).

Keep the titles that add value. Keep the titles that are different.

Draft-to-Publish Conversion

I write down more titles than I publish, so I’m keen to start converting more this year. To convert, I need to work out what’s stopped me so far.

A couple of key barriers:

Firstly, I come up with ideas away from a screen. On the bus, walking down the high street, or sitting in the bath. My initial excitement for an article comes at an inconvenient time i.e. when I’m physically not in a position to write or expand on my thoughts.

Secondly, I leave a long gap between title and execution. I say the inspiration will stay with me, but it normally doesn’t. I need to purge my draft list more often, and I need to fit writing into my daily schedule before I allow title overload and long delays.

Hopefully these resonate with you. If not, reflect on your own writing habits and pick out your own barriers to conversion.

Where do ideas hit you?

Do you write the article as soon as you think of the title?

Can you carry a notebook with you?

Though Seth Godin tells us we can’t blame writer’s block, I do believe we experience times when the process of writing just doesn’t flow. But more often than not, the challenge to write will come down to something ‘trivial’ like location. It’s difficult to come up with ideas when we’re in front of a screen both because it’s forced and we’re likely to be focusing on a certain task at hand without the space for creativity.

Final Comments

If you’re sick of the titles and drafts piling up in your Medium ‘inbox’, give them a quick bin. There’s a reason ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ is a bestseller, and there’s a reason we gravitate toward Japanese minimalist lifestyle trends in ‘Ikigai’. There’s also a reason why people spend hundreds of pounds on a seven-day juice cleanse — we want to start afresh and feel space.

Don’t allow the drafts to suffocate you. No one wants a wardrobe full of old clothes.

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Thanks for reading!

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