As I’ve explained in a number of earlier sideline pieces, midway through the first draft of my Darwin book (which is still a work in progress) I became aware of the Zettelkasten system of note-making, and quickly became besotted with both it and the associated Obsidian app (other apps or analogue alternatives are available). I ended up taking a few months retrospectively converting all my existing notes to the system, then filling in some of the more glaring gaps in my notes.
Earlier this week, Chris Aldrich put out a call for model examples of Zettelkasten output processes. What he’s after is best summarised in his response to one commenter:
Now that you’ve got [your notes] and they’re linked, how do you actively revisit and reuse them? What does that portion of your process look like? Do you actively use them to write papers, articles, blogposts, other? How is that done?
In my own case, the answer is yes, I do actively use my notes to write both long-form pieces (the more recent chapters of my book), and some of my longer-form ‘sideline’ blog posts (including this one). It’s still early days, but, as I wrote before, there’s no going back.
My research and writing is a convoluted process, but, in response to Chris’s call, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to describe how I went about drafting a recent chapter of my book, which was fairly typical under my new system—and not entirely unlike how I worked in my pre-Zettelkasten, pre-Obsidian days. I shall, as Chris suggested in the comment quoted above, begin from where I already had a set of interlinked notes in place…