Zettelkasten Forum


I leave a paper trail . . .

Hello.

Not sure why I haven't found this place until now. Well, I'm here now. :)

I've been monkeying around with Zettelkasten for a while now and am sold on it—obviously, or I wouldn't be here I suppose. All my permanent notes, in both slip boxes, are paper. 4x6 inch cards (I'm American). I like paper. Paper is more 'permanent' and it forces me to rummage through the slip box. It just feels more natural to me. Physical exploration.

Who am I. I am an academically-inclined semi-retired, ex-tech guy. I run a small farm and help folks buy and sell real estate (my retirement job). I also write. A lot. I am working on a novel. I write poetry, etc.

What do I use ZK for? Everything. It's my second brain. I used to house my second brain in the Joplin app on my computer (and most of it still resides there) and also in many many paper notebooks. I also, ironically, archived many notes on index cards, but not organized in the Zettelkasten model. Now, I have a better way. Once I stumbled upon Zettelkasten, it was a eureka moment and such an obvious evolution of the more traditional model of note after note archived away. Obvious, but it needed to be spelled out, state aloud, and there needed to be an example of someone using it effectively. Huzzah! Luhmanns and Umberto Eco.1 Glad these people exist and their methodologies are coming to light.

I don't have a specific project associated to the slip boxes. They just are. And I just am.


  1. Speaking of fiction-writing and Umberto Eco. I know he used cards in the academic sense, but I am attempting to determine how to incorporate ZK into the world of writing fiction. I am considering a third slip box for experimentation with incomplete thoughts and paths of introspection and . . . I just don't know, to be honest. Currently, I keep a notebook per fiction writing project. And I have per-project spaces in Joplin as well. Its very Commonplace Book-like. For now, that is now I will continue working on fiction projects, though of course, I still often dive into the Zettelkasten for knowledge and idea mining while writing fiction. ↩︎

I am a Zettler.

Comments

  • Welcome to the forums.

    There are fiction writers here along with non-fiction and poetry writers here. Each with their own workflow.

    Check out this discussion.

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

  • Welcome! With regards to fiction writing, Robert Pirsig may have a clue in his novel Lila: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/pirsig-lila/

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

  • Thanks for the welcome Will and ctietze.

    Yeah, I mean, I incorporate ZK in to my fiction writing in the sense that thoughts and ideas and musing that have value in the general sense make it in. But the fiction itself, the character development notes, the thoughts on various plot points, etc.—I can't find a place for that kind of stuff, so they exist elsewhere. I have read how some folks intermingle world-building notes and ideas in their Kasten, and I just don't get that. I don't want non-real things and random "facts" creating noise in the system, even if they are all collected behind one Topic Note. I can see maybe creating a project slip box where a novel could develope in a sense, just so you get the advantages of the organic development structure. But . . . well, we'll see. I will experiment.

    The random thought I get in the middle of the day of "AH HA! Maybe she isn't really his sister!!!" goes into a notebook and not the slip box. :) But my thoughts and research on the challenges siblings go through who, later in life, discover that they are not actually blood-related and what that means from a social dynamic? That may make it into a slip box. :)

    I am a Zettler.

  • @todd I am an aspiring rather than "real" fiction writer (but a "real" non-fiction writer, with which I've had a lot of experience). My ZK is full of ideas for stories - concepts, characters, plot lines, etc. The zettels containing that information are mixed in with all the others on a wide range of topics, and in some cases even cross-connected. They all co-exist quite happily.

  • @GeoEng51 said:
    @todd I am an aspiring rather than "real" fiction writer (but a "real" non-fiction writer, with which I've had a lot of experience). My ZK is full of ideas for stories - concepts, characters, plot lines, etc. The zettels containing that information are mixed in with all the others on a wide range of topics, and in some cases even cross-connected. They all co-exist quite happily.

    Oh, I am aspiring in the sense that my body of work is minimal, but a fiction (and non-fiction and poetry) writer nonetheless.

    Yeah. I will have to experiment. We'll see if these kinds of notes just introduce too much noise. To me I see a lot of that stuff as disposable once the story is written. And maybe that is where I draw the line most firmly. If an idea is "permanent" then it is up for consideration. And if it is not—it gets consumed by a novel or some such—it goes somewhere else. Dunno. You guys have made me step back and think about it.

    I am a Zettler.

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