The three buckets

Note: This post is one of a bunch I’ll be writing on the writing process itself. These posts will feature systems I’ve picked up or developed myself to research, structure, and edit my writing.

The three buckets is a system I picked up from Jeff Goins. Like the other systems I recommend, it’s simple, easy-to-use, and effective. This system allows you to develop large amounts of ideas and writing.

It goes like this. Basically, you categorize your writing efforts into three buckets: ideas, drafts, and edits. In the idea bucket, you place the ideas you want to write about: a story that you might want to turn into a short story, an idea for screenplay, a book title, a new insight you want to blog about, whatever. All your ideas go into this bucket.

In the draft bucket, you place any iteration you’ve made on the ideas in your idea bucket. This iteration doesn’t have to be a full draft – it could be an outline, a paragraph, a page, whatever. It’s just a draft of that idea. Eventually, of course, you’ll want to create a full draft – but no rush.

In the edit bucket, you take a full draft in your draft bucket and start editing it, improving wording, taking out unnecessary words here or there, reorganizing it.

One of the reasons why I love this system is because I can still engage in writing without needing to go through the whole process (pre-writing, writing, editing). Having to go through the whole process with every piece is extremely daunting and, for most people, just scares them from writing in the first place.

But with the three buckets, you can fill your idea bucket with as many ideas as you want, fill your draft bucket with as many drafts as you want, and edit as many drafts as you want. You’ll always have something to work on, so your writing well won’t be dry.


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