Zettelkasten Forum


What is your process to go from individual Zettels to a completed piece of writing?

How do you use your notes to create a published piece of writing (blog post/article/book etc)?

How do you organise the individual notes?

Do you make an index and reference individual notes? Do you copy and paste them into one big note?

Comments

  • @Jon said:
    How do you use your notes to create a published piece of writing (blog post/article/book etc)?

    How do you organise the individual notes?

    Do you make an index and reference individual notes? Do you copy and paste them into one big note?

    This isn't a detailed answer to your question and I've only done it a couple of times, so far. But these are my steps:

    1. I review my ZK and read through various linked zettels that pertain to the topic about which I want to write.
    2. I transfer each of those zettlels into Scrivener (a writing tool). In Scrivener, you can have a series of text files that form an approximate thought pattern, argument, or story (depending on what you are doing). Each file can be moved around, to put them in any order that makes sense to you and serves the purpose of your article or story, and you can add more text or edit what you have.
    3. Once I think I have the general flow correct, then I start writing text that bridges and makes explicit the connections between the zettels. I also write the "missing" text, as the series of zettels doesn't necessarily all just flow along perfectly.
    4. I work on the material within Scrivener until the basic article or story is mostly done, then transfer it to a word processor (usually Pages or Mellel) to make final edits on text and formatting.
    5. From there, it can be published to PDF or epub or some other format for distribution.
  • @GeoEng51

    Thanks for the response! Do you organise your various linked zettels in any way (using a structure note etc)?

    I've been thinking of using a structure note to give the outline of the piece I'm working on, for example....

    Introduction

    [[202011091942 Note title]]
    - [[202011092932 Note title]]
    - [[202010091912 Note title]]
    [[202011091162 Note title]]
    [[202011051542 Note title]]

    (Brief joiner text explaining how to link from the above points to the below points.)

    [[202008091242 Note title]]
    [[202011051952 Note title]]
    [[202011091942 Note title]]
    [[202011091522 Note title]]
    [[202011091912 Note title]]

    Topic One

    [[202011041941 Note title]]
    - [[202007091149 Note title]]
    - [[202011091241 Note title]]
    [[202001091912 Note title]]
    - [[202011091959 Note title]]
    - [[202008091916 Note title]]
    [[202010091941 Note title]]

    That way I can easily add/subtract notes to this piece, and the same note can be used in multiple outlines if necessary.

    A few problems I see with this approach is that just linking to the note title provides less information than if you were to copy the whole text of the note into one big draft document. Also to view the contents of the note requires you click on the link (which navigates away from the outline).

    I suppose in a way it's a question of what level of abstraction works best for the individual. Having an outline as above provides a high level of abstraction allowing for a high level overview, but misses the detail of the individual notes.

  • Sounds sensible!

    Disclaimer: I do have working drafts for writing projects outlined in this fashion :) I do add some more contextual info why a link is places somewhere.

    Random sample:

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

  • It is pretty straight forward:

    1. Create an outline in your ZK
    2. Fill in what you already have as links. (Similar to a Structure Note)
    3. Expand the outline via not creation until you are satisfied.
    4. Copy all the text in a file outside of your ZK and edit it until satisfied.

    I am a Zettler

  • @ctietze Thanks! It's really useful to see the sample screenshot.

    @sfast That does make it sound straightforward. After you are satisfied with the expanded outline, do you open the individual notes one by one and copy and paste them into another file outside the ZK? Or is there some way to get it done in one go?

  • @Jon said:
    @ctietze Thanks! It's really useful to see the sample screenshot.

    @sfast That does make it sound straightforward. After you are satisfied with the expanded outline, do you open the individual notes one by one and copy and paste them into another file outside the ZK? Or is there some way to get it done in one go?

    I mentioned before using Scrivener. You can just copy all the related text files into Scrivener - they show up in a panel with the file titles. Then rearrange to suite, edit if you wish, and export everything to another app if you wish.

  • I do what @GeoEng51 outlined almost exactly. I troll through the system, import txt file into Scrivener and write away. Drag and drop into Scrivener is pretty magical.

    I may actually do this a number of times during a project: troll through the system for additional material and import the results as separate scrivenings. For my way of thinking structure, connection, and extension occurs in Scrivener. The zettles are unstructured raw material.

    One addition to his process:

    While writing I add a Scrivener folder in "Reference" called "Cuts" (in reference meaning it doesn't compile). In that folder are my discards: stuff I wrote up that didn't work for one reason or another but that are just too good to delete. Often whole character developments and chapters end up there, or sometimes just really funny or cute lines I can't bring myself to part with but that have no business being in the current project.

    (I believe this is common with writers even they don't use Scrivener. Many of my friends have a "Courage" file of an open Word document to cut stuff into, using that rather than actually deleting text. Helps with the courage necessary for heavy revisions.)

    When the project is done I export "Cuts" as individual text files from Scrivener back into the system. It can be done easily as a drag-and-drop from Scrivener into the zettle folder, or by the export menu command. They might be useful for another project. Hey, you never know.

  • @Jon said:
    How do you use your notes to create a published piece of writing (blog post/article/book etc)?

    How do you organise the individual notes?

    Do you make an index and reference individual notes? Do you copy and paste them into one big note?

    Yes, use structure notes. It depends on the kind of writing. In essence, any writing is a form of argument and the way you present the argument relies in how do you want to present it. Academics tend to follow certain style by convention for the sake of making their arguments easier to digest to other academics and devoid of personality as to be timeless. If you're doing academic writing you should have a structure based on facts or experiments, and that dictates the order of your notes in your structure note. On the other hand, other kinds of writing allow you to put first and last whatever you feel convenient as you have a style.

  • @Jon You cause pandoc to stitch all the zettles together, once you know the order you want them in and know they have the final text. https://pandoc.org

    For example, I recently translated a book, using a zettel for each chapter. Each was self-contained and because the order was already fixed I didn't have to create any linking sentences. So this is a very manual or simplified process compared with what others are talking about above, but it does tell you how to produce a finished whole document from a lot of zettels.

    • I had a structure page with a list of each chapter, and a few notes of my own for orientation after each one, eg page numbers from the original. The actual name of each note was just eg "[[UID]] 1", "[[UID]] 2"
    • When I had finished editing each note, still in The Archive, (cos I want to keep my final text!) I stitched them all together using a command in the terminal: pandoc fromthisdoc -s -o nameofnewdocandfiletype
    • The part 'fromthisdoc' was actually a list of all the zettels, in order, so it was pretty long, but I got each one from Finder doc list and did 'copy address' and listed them all there in the terminal command.
    • As the publisher wanted it in Word, bu I did not want to really do any editing in Word, I asked for the file type : nameofbook.docx
    • And voila a huge lovely Word doc appeared in my folder, which I then sent to the publisher
  • @Jon I am writing a book-length commentary on a 12th-century Tibetian text using the same technique as described by @Steph. I have 60 short chapters, each in its own note in The Archive. Pandoc will stitch them all together in the end, create a TOC, add the cover art, and format in epub, Word, PDF, or any format I could want. Pandoc is a great tool and I'm amazed at what it can do.

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

  • @GeoEng51 and @DougWrites : Do you know a free software which makes it possible to drag and drop text blogs in order to change the order? It is the only feature i am missing, but i dont think a scrivener subscription is necessary only for the UI?

  • @Steph said:
    @Jon You cause pandoc to stitch all the zettles together, once you know the order you want them in and know they have the final text. https://pandoc.org

    Thanks @Steph and @Will, using pandoc to stitch the files together sounds SO much better than manually copying and pasting each individual file's contents!

  • @amunicapunica said:
    @GeoEng51 and @DougWrites : Do you know a free software which makes it possible to drag and drop text blogs in order to change the order? It is the only feature i am missing, but i dont think a scrivener subscription is necessary only for the UI?

    Scrivener is not subscription-based, but it still does cost money. If you are a writer, it is a necessary and essential tool. You can drag and drop as many zettels as you want, at once, into its "binder", then re-organize and edit as you wish.

    If you only write occasional essays, then just copying and pasting text from each zettel into a normal text editor would work fine. Not ideal, but workable.

    I use all sorts of text editors but Scrivener is the only writing tool I've tried; I can't speak to other writing tools. You can drag and drop a number of markdown files from your Zettelkasten directory at one time into Word, but then you are stuck cutting and pasting to organize the way you want everything. Again, not an ideal approach.

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