In a recent post, Austin Kleon writes about how other writers sort through their work:
I am fascinated by the notebook and filing systems of other writers. In my experience, it’s very easy to write every day and get ideas down, but it’s not so easy to keep track of it all.
I’ve encountered this a little bit before. I love notebooks, but struggle to extract anything useful from them once they are done. They pile up under my desk and I rarely look at them again. Instead I transcribe them as I go. For years, I’ve chucked them into one long plain text file but that has become unwieldy and hard to look through. I had the same problem as the notebooks, I would write it down at the bottom of the file and not look at the rest.
So when I found Tiddlywiki to make my notes public, it changed how I process them. Instead of a linear approach, Tiddlywiki values interlinking, creating a network of notes. I’ve been using it for a couple of months and already it has been invaluable. Instead of just treating notes as a fixed point, I’m updating them, linking them to others, developing ideas. There’s no limit to how much you can link the ideas together. The network mirrors thought and clustering ideas together. It also helps to find notes as well, as it’s all searchable.
(Incidentally, I’m re-reading Kleon’s Share Your Work and in it he makes the point that a network is more powerful for creating than a lone individual, which feels along the same lines.)
It’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying The Magnus Archives, a serial horror podcast. Each episode is a stand alone story, but a larger story is revealed through the links and connections to the other stories. It’s also set in an archive, showing the danger of falling into a hole of categorising and filing.
This blog could also be considered an exercise in interlinking, but is more linear in format, arranged by date and providing a kind of rolling progression of thoughts. I’m going to continue exploring networked thought, adding in half baked notes and things I want to develop into my Tiddlywiki.