My first Zettelkasten project
A few hours ago, I sent the chapter. This piece for an edited volume is my first academic project crafted with the Zettelkasten Method. What follows is my reflection upon my first use of it.
Creating the zetteln seemed clear. I gave each a unique identifier, notes, sources, and then I gave each at least two other zetteln references. The references included back links, as well.
I used Devonthink to make and store them. I created many of them in the folder for this project, but I kept a replicant (Devonthink for the same zettel in multiple folders) in another folder that contains all of my zetteln. I had zero zetteln when I started, so when I came across an idea that did not fit in the project, I put it in the zettel folder with everything else. To make myself feel more comfortable, I used tags in addition to the other networking methods described on this forum. I found that I did refer to the tags on occasion to find zetteln I was looking for.
For future projects, I can see myself creating folders from Devonthink searches, and then adding zetteln from there, as above. None of these contain links that I can simply click to hop around zetteln. I don’t know Markdown and don’t have Archive. These weeks only allowed for so much time for new things.
I outlined using the zetteln. Just for fun, I cut and pasted the notes of the zetteln together in a single document. Doing that alone nearly got me to the required word count. Of course, I did not use this for my text, but began writing from the zetteln. This is where things got tricky.
The zetteln and the flow of ideas did not exactly follow the same current. I found that I would use parts of zetteln. At other times, I would need to go back and insert a zettel or a part of another zettel, and I took some things out. In other words, the zettel outline I produced came alive as more of a Charybdis than a chapter. Fortunately, I was not afraid and sailed on.
I continued with the writing process as one would expect: rearranging parts, re-writing parts, discovering the need for further research, and so on. When putting the time into creating the zetteln, I expected that the re-writing and editing process would be faster. I was wrong. And this turned out to be a good thing. Reworking the piece allowed for new insights and a better final product.
I have some remaining questions:
1. Should I expect that my style for composing zetteln will change? Will they start to come together a bit cleaner than the Franken-paper I first made from the outline?
- (I’ve seen this question asked elsewhere) What’s the best way to introduce new zetteln in the writing process? If I’m running with a new idea, I don’t want to stop and create a zettel. If I don’t, however, it’s likely that I never will.
I’m interested in your thoughts.