- Jan 2023
The above is an attempt to describe how I went about writing one chapter of my book. I use the same basic approach for all my chapters, namely: make lots of linked notes about stuff I happen to find interesting;continue to develop those notes, splitting them into smaller notes when they become too wide-ranging;write Journal entries and draw mind-maps to explore what I’ve discovered;keep playing with my notes;await a lightbulb moment, when two or more notes suddenly make an unexpected new connection in my brain, and I think, “Oh, that’s interesting!”create a detailed bullet-point outline of my chapter, complete with links to supporting notes and references;write the chapter;compile the chapter references with the help of the chapter outline links;repeat until the first draft of the book is finished;then comes the fun part.
Summary of Richard Carter's writing process from notes to product.
All that remained was the small matter of actually writing the chapter. I don’t do this in Obsidian: I think it would be asking for trouble to mix notes and their end-products in the same place.
I've not seen this explicitly laid out as advice before though in most contexts people's note taking spaces have historically been divorced from their writing spaces for publication because slips and notes are usually kept physically separate from the working spaces or finished parts, but Richard Carter specifically separates the digital spaces in which he takes his notes and then uses them for creating end products. While he could both take notes in Obsidian, his tool of choice for notes, as well as write his finished pieces there, he actively changes contexts to use a different digital app to compose his notes into final pieces.
What affordances does this context shift provide? <br /> - blank slate may encourage reworking and expansion of original notes - is there a blank slate effect and what would it entail? - potentially moves the piece into a longer format space or tool which provides additional writing, formatting or other affordances (which? there don't seem to be any in this case aside from a potential "distraction free mode" which may tend to force one to focus only on the piece at hand rather than the thousands of other pieces (notes) hiding within the app)
What affordances does this remove?<br /> - He's forced to repeat himself (cut & paste / DRY violation)
Is it easier or harder (from a time/effort perspective) to provide citations with such a workflow? Carter does indicate that for him:
Having links to original sources in my outline makes the compilation of references for the chapter far easier than it used to be.
At around this point, as is my habit when trying to work out where I’ve got to, and to devise a basic outline, I took out my trusty Leuchtturm1917 notebook and scrawled out a rough mind-map of my potential chapter:
To test out some potential ideas and flow of a particular chapter for which he already had a corpus of notes, Richard Carter created a mindmap outline of some of his ideas. This in combination with testing out further ideas in his writing journal "three weeks later" caused him to make some significant changes in the structure of his chapter.
Among other things, I have traditionally used my Journal to think out loud to myself about my work in hand: the progress I’m making, the problems I’m encountering, and so on. Many of my best ideas have arisen by writing to myself like this.
Richard Carter uses his writing journal practice to "think out loud" to himself. Often, laying out extended arguments helps people to refine and reshape their thinking as they're better able to see potential holes or missing pieces of arguments. It's the same sort of mechanism which is at work in rubber duck debugging of computer code: by explaining a process one is more easily able to see the missing pieces, errors, or problems with the process at hand.
Carter's separate note taking and writing journal practice being used as a thought space or writing workshop of sorts is very similar to the process seen in my preliminary studies of Henry David Thoreau's work in which he kept commonplace books and separate (writing) journals which show evidence of his trying ideas on for size and working them before committing them to his published works.
- thought spaces
- cut and paste
- context shifting
- note taking practice
- don't repeat yourself
- thinking out loud
- writing output
- open questions
- trying on ideas
- note taking affordances
- writing output affordances
- rubber duck debugging
- writing process
- Henry David Thoreau
- zettelkasten output
- writing journals
- text editing
- Richard Carter
I couldn’t have written this book without the aid of laying out all of thedifferent sections on my desk. I created a hub of cards that had collectivecardlinks on them. Each card was organized by topic and contained subtopicsthat pointed me to various card addresses in my Antinet. I then moved themaround a large table to create the perfect logical layout for this book. Here’sa picture of it:
Despite doing the lion's share of the work of linking cards along the way, Scheper shows that there's still some work of laying out an outline and moving cards around to achieve a final written result.
compare this with Victor Margolin's process: https://hypothes.is/a/oQFqvm3IEe2_Fivwvx596w
also compare with the similar processes of Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene
- Dec 2022
This generally fits my criteria for submission as an example to https://boffosocko.com/2022/07/12/call-for-model-examples-of-zettelkasten-output-processes/
the Antinet can serve both states. It can assist someone who’s in thegrowth state (without a clear end goal), and it can also assist someone who’sin the contribution state (with a clearly defined book or project).
This could be clearer and "growth state" and "contribution state" feel like jargon which muddles:
two of the broad benefits/affordances of having a zettelkasten: - learning and scaffolding knowledge (writing for understanding) - collecting and arranging material for general output
- Oct 2022
Much like the way the Obsidian journal plugin counts words within one's daily journal page, this app counts zettels within a folder to help encourage one to maintain some level of output.
- Sep 2022
This text fills a gap in the professional literature concerning revision because currently,according to Harris, there is little scholarship on “how to do it” (p. 7).
I'm curious if this will be an answer to the question I asked in Call for Model Examples of Zettelkasten Output Processes?
- Aug 2022
One can't help but notice that Dutcher's essay, laid out like it is in a numbered fashion with one or two paragraphs each may stem from the fact of his using his own note taking method.
Each section seems to have it's own headword followed by pre-written notes in much the same way he indicates one should take notes in part 18.
It could be illustrative to count the number of paragraphs in each numbered section. Skimming, most are just a paragraph or two at most while a few do go as high as 5 or 6 though these are rarer. A preponderance of shorter one or two paragraphs that fill a single 3x5" card would tend to more directly support the claim. Though it is also the case that one could have multiple attached cards on a single idea. In Dutcher's case it's possible that these were paperclipped or stapled together (does he mention using one side of the slip only, which is somewhat common in this area of literature on note making?). It seems reasonably obvious that he's not doing more complex numbering or ordering the way Luhmann did, but he does seem to be actively using it to create and guide his output directly in a way (and even publishing it as such) that supports his method.
Is this then evidence for his own practice? He does actively mention in several places links to section numbers where he also cross references ideas in one card to ideas in another, thereby creating a network of related ideas even within the subject heading of his overall essay title.
Here it would be very valuable to see his note collection directly or be able to compare this 1927 version to an earlier 1908 version which he mentions.
- Mar 2022
Make a Career One Note at a Time
Ahrens compares the writing output of Anthony Trollope to Niklas Luhmann and suggests that Luhmann wins hands down because the zettelkasten provides some additional leverage above and beyond the basic linear output of Trollope.