Zettelkasten Forum


Do you ever write natively in your ZK?

Friends,

I keep noticing something happening in my workflow, so I want to share my experience and know if the same happens with you.

Let's say a professor has asked for a brief essay (~1,000 words) asking us to synthesize and reflect upon several readings (this is a common assignment type in my courses). So, I open The Archive and read through my relevant Zettels, which may be directly about a given reading or a branch off on some related topic. Then my synthesizing thinking begins, so I draft a new note, articulating how some new idea n connects concepts x and y. I'll add than my n notes have proven very fruitful in building my knowledge and establishing insightful links between notes. So far this seems pretty typical for ZK use.

Here's the part I'm curious about. I keep finding that after I do the above a few times, I find myself writing the assignment directly in The Archive rather than my text editor. On the one hand, these notes aren't nearly as atomic as some of my other conceptual notes. On the other hand, these longer written pieces being in my ZK means that they appear in other searches, which has led to more linking in my knowledge production (e.g., at the end of a Zettel writing, "See [[this assignment]] for another way I connected these ideas").

Do you do this? Why or why not? Do you link to external documents in your ZK instead? I welcome any ideas on the subject!

Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

Comments

  • I've found myself writing in my zettelkasten 'natively' as you call it. My workflow is evolving but in one scenario I created a 'structure note' as an outline for an essay, recording todo's and research tasks, contact info for interviews, etc. Then I broke the essay assignment into chapters or sub-topics, writing the narrative for each chapter separately. Once I was satisfied with an initial draft, I exported and concatenated the notes together into IA Writer for editing.

    I toyed with the idea of removing the draft notes but I realize they contain novel ideas that could be composted for a future self. So I left them in and now they pop up in a search and allow a moment of remanence. Not a bad thing and I can take the time to reread them or not. Who knows?

    I find The Archive's editing window so comfortable that I'm exploring a new workflow. Basically I open a Tab and move it to a separate window. Then I can drag and drop from my zettelkasten to a new note, surf in one window while keeping the second window for writing and compiling. So far I've only used this for creating an outline which then I export and editing in IA Writer. I just like the UI in IA Writer and also Grammarly works in IA Writer but not The Archive and my writing needs all the help it can get.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • It happens to me, too. :smile:

    I let it happen. When I finish the text I copy it in another folder or break it up into individual notes.

    I am a Zettler

  • @Sociopoetic said:

    Here's the part I'm curious about. I keep finding that after I do the above a few times, I find myself writing the assignment directly in The Archive rather than my text editor. On the one hand, these notes aren't nearly as atomic as some of my other conceptual notes. On the other hand, these longer written pieces being in my ZK means that they appear in other searches, which has led to more linking in my knowledge production (e.g., at the end of a Zettel writing, "See [[this assignment]] for another way I connected these ideas").

    Do you do this? Why or why not? Do you link to external documents in your ZK instead? I welcome any ideas on the subject!

    I use a program called Scrivener for writing reports, articles, etc., basically anything longer than a paragraph or two. It's designed for writing and it does its job really well. Zettels can go into Scrivener as separate text files, then get moved around and filled out with extra text, then the whole thing exported into Word or PDF or whatever (many different) formats, concatenating in the process.

    I might be able to do it natively in TA, but I've used Scrivener for so long, I just find it much easier to use it (and that's what it was designed for).

  • @Will, your examples are helpful. Thanks. Admittedly, if I still worked exclusively in the humanities, iA writer would probably be how I would navigate transitions from notes to longer text.

    @sfast, the notion of breaking apart the assignment into other notes again is intriguing. I think this idea actually exposed a weakness in my workflow: some of my work is simply plain-text, so the Archive is the most comfortable tool I have. But, I increasingly am using RMarkdown and TeX for the authoring of my university papers (and eventually, my MS thesis). I think this means I need to find an editor I am more comfortable with when I need those more robust tools. The Archive has become my home for my thinking, up until I need to use R or more complex formatting and notation.

    @GeoEng51, I like the sound of this workflow to concatenate texts, but as I nodded to above, I'm committed to a plain-text workflow. All of my work starts in Markdown and works its way through to PDF, and I'm not convinced Scrivener would by my tool for that. Nevertheless, you also hit on a key point: comfort. As a (perhaps silly) example, I'm so used to the kind of syntax highlighting used in The Archive that I'll probably figure out how to have my editor eventually match the theme.

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • My experience with science was write the idea, the draft, and the final document all in LaTeX. As a designer it doesn't work like that. In this case it will go from text editor, draft, proof reading, final version all in text editor and then to InDesign where the text arrives in its final state and isn't altered ever again.

  • @Sociopoetic I'll go away and do some research on this, but I believe all the text snippets in Scrivener are rich text files. They get wrapped into some sort of larger container (*.scriv file type), but you can unpack that to see the individual files.

    Also, Scrivener can export its contents into Multi-Markdown.

    I get the commitment to only using a plain text / Markdown workflow, though.

  • @Splattack , yes, I find I'm often drafting in Markdown but my final reports are in TeX. I've used Overleaf for a while, but as I get more comfortable with TeX syntax, pandoc, and my text editor, I'm hoping to do it all from my desktop rather than a web app.

    @GeoEng51 , I'll look into that feature of Scrivener as well, and how nicely it plays with other tools I need (like using R for some of my maps and charts).

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • @Sociopoetic Ah, I feel your feelz.

    My personal solution for that is:

    1. I do my fragmented writing in The Archive. If longer texts emerge, so be it.
    2. I create outlines with Folding Texts as a first step towards longer texts
    3. My long-form writing is done with iA-Writer.
    4. If I publish books, I export markdown to LaTeX. From there on, the text ist stored in LaTeX. I try to edit as much as I can before I export from markdown to LaTeX.

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast, your solution is elegant. Sadly, I don't think iA writer will play nice with the complex maps and graphics I have to produce with my work. For my humanities work, it would be perfect. But just as I will never have two Zettelkasten, I don't want two text editors for different purposes either. The ideal editor is a bit of a quest for me, it seems.

    Once I figured out that I could use RMarkdown (i.e., Markdown that also speaks R), things got juicy for me.

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • Can always drag yourself to the hell that is called Emacs.. :naughty:

    I am a Zettler

  • @sfast, that's what one of the professors at my undergrad uni suggests. I have a feeling it will happen, but I hear so many warnings here about it...

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • @Sociopoetic Ever since I do my email (!), some of my programming, writing and editing, and task/project management in Emacs -- I can only warn you that this is a very deep rabbit hole, and you'll not working with an editor, but an editor-making toolkit, since the default settings are so awkward that you will want to customize stuff. I cannot not recommend going down that rabbit hole. It's a tricky topic :)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze said:
    I cannot not recommend going down that rabbit hole. It's a tricky topic :)

    Nobody should ever go as far as to recommend Emacs. It's not a recommendation, it's a choice of life. It defines who you are, or the persons you are interacting with.

    Oh, god help us!

    [Silicon Valley]: Hendricks, Richard 2016. "Bachmanity Insanity"

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

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