Capturing Blog Ideas

I've been refactoring my workflow lately, trying to make better use of Org-mode, especially Org agenda. I'm always on the lookout for promising blog subjects and usually find them when reading my RSS feeds. My normal process was to bookmark a promising post1 in a “Blog Ideas” folder and then look through that when I was searching for Irreal post subjects. The problem is that the folder is huge because I don't actually use most of the posts I bookmark. Half the time, I forget why I saved a post.

My new workflow is to save my ideas in an Org file. I capture the ideas using org-capture. That makes it easy to record a link to the post and to add notes about my initial ideas for transforming it into an Irreal post.

Here's my org-capture template for blog entries:

("b" "Blog" entry (file "~/org/b-ideas.org")
 "* TODO %? \n%U\n%(jcs-retrieve-url)\n")

It's pretty much conventional except for the %(jcs-retrieve-url) that calls jcs-retrieve-url to get the URL of the current Browser page and inserts it into the TODO entry. The jcs-retrieve-url function is just a call to some Apple script requesting the URL of the current Safari page. It's the same call that I used in jcs-get-link. I have a similar template that gets its link from the killring. I use that for capturing blog posts that include a link to a tweet.

Here's what a typical entry looks like:

* TODO Abo-abo's remapped keyboard                                    :emacs:
the =;= key acts as an escape to remapped keys.
Abo-abo claims that the main disadvantage is that QWERTY seems
sluggish after he got used to using it. 
[2015-02-14 Sat 17:19]
http://oremacs.com/2015/02/14/semi-xmodmap/

One nice thing about this scheme is that I can accumulate notes about the post before I actually write it. With my old scheme, there was no way of doing this so if I had an idea about the post there was no easy way of recording it. Now I just add some notes to the TODO entry. I can also add links to related posts so that I have them all available when I start writing. Before I could save additional links but there was no way of tying them together other than remembering that they were related.

Even better, I can start writing the post, mark it as a DRAFT, and add a link to the DRAFT in the agenda. Then I can accumulate ideas directly into the post before I'm ready to post it. Because the draft post is still anchored by the agenda item, it doesn't get lost—it still appears in my agenda until I publish it and mark it DONE.

EDIT: I just noticed that Sacha Chua has a great post on using org-capture and efficient note taking. If you're interested in leveraging Org mode for note taking you should definitely take a look.

Footnotes:

1

For this post, the term “post” means someone else's post or article that I found on the Internet. The term “Irreal post” means one of my posts that appears or will appear on Irreal.

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