Why Most Creators Don't Need To Build Complex Zettelkastens

Ev Chapman
February 21, 2022
2 min read

I'm giving up on the Zettelkasten Note-Taking method.

Two years ago I read the book How To Take Smart Notes. It changed how I think about notes forever. I diligently started taking fleeting notes & literature notes & permanent notes. I spent hours figuring out how to implement it, watching youtube videos on how other people did it and creating products to help others understand it.

Unfortunately, Zettelkasten is far too complicated for what most creators need.

We need a simple system that helps us generate inspiration & fuels our writing. So, rather than give up on it completely I'm breaking off the best parts into my workflow:

Write Notes While You're Reading. Rather than highlight & pretend you're going to revisit your highlights. Take notes while you're reading & put them in a writing inbox you look at each day.

Follow Your Interests. Never read or work on uninteresting things. If something isn't sparking for you, find another book or article to read that does.

Build A Library Of Notes. Not a quotes & highlights in a database. But permanent notes that form the basis of your thinking. These become the outlines for the writing you do in public.

Bottoms Up Writing. Instead of thinking about a topic, outlining the main points & then starting to write. Your notes build more organically from the bottom up. The more you follow your interests, the more notes you add, the more you start to see clusters of ideas form.

I think it's time for a much simpler, pared-back note-taking method for creators that doesn't involve multiple note types & complicated numbering systems. Just a simple way to bump into inspiration daily & have it fuel your writing.

More on this simple method tomorrow.

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