🌲 Using Obsidian For Writing Fiction & Notes
A roundup of resources for using the markdown-based notetaking app Obsidian.md to write fiction and manage worldbuilding-related notes.
I use Obsidian for writing and managing hobbyist research, but it’s popular with academics (it has integrations with reference managers and spaced repetition tools) and people interested in personal knowledge management. I do my best to answer questions from different people about how they can use Obsidian, but my area of expertise is using Obsidian for writing.
This article attempts to collect some of the resources I've created to help people to do that.
First, here’s a twitter thread I wrote about how obsidian really is the only tool that has ever worked for me as an author, and is the reason I now publish my fiction for a paying audience (there are free samples, of course).
I covered my project management workflow with a ton of examples and links as an Obsidian Community Talk:
I’ve also written about my process, involving increasingly atomic folders, on the obsidian forums. Awhile back, I was interviewed about how I use obsidian for writing fiction, and some of the insights should still be useful, although the plugin landscape has changed a lot since then.
The plugin I mention here, that I use to get short fiction writing prompts, is Obsidian Shuffle.
Nick Milo of Linking Your Thinking has an interview with a longtime authors with many published works who use Obsidian, which might be useful if you enjoyed that video:
Nick also interviewed me about the non-fiction side of my workflow, namely how I process nonfiction books and articles and integrate what I learn into my notes so that I can use the information to create articles and round out my worldbuilding. You can view it here:
(If you enjoyed this live notetaking session, you might also enjoy Andy Matuschak’s version. He does things a little differently than I do structurally, but there’s a lot of value in comparison, I think!
A later interview covers how I integrate the academic research tools into my system in order to process source material and get all my notes into one place:
As a follow-up to this, based on a couple of emails I got asking me to elaborate on a couple of details that got mentioned in passing during the video, I thought it might be useful to link to my template for daily notes and the CSS Snippets I use for Obsidian. For a long time, the theme that best supporte my workflow was Sanctum, but after getting an iPad I switched to Minimal. My snippets for the dataview plugin are also available on the Obsidian forums and github.
I also publicly shared my vault with most of my notes, and you get access to a .zip download of most of my plugins and stories & such as bonus materials if you buy my stories. There are more details over on my launch announcement. I also did a Q&A to showcase how I create the stories and articles that appear on my other newsletter, the Iceberg.
Sometime later, I showcased how I handle quick capture and notes where I'm focused on a research question rather than a source:
Note: There are a couple of affiliate links & codes scattered around, but these always come from links I was already recommending and usually I share them because they benefit you too (i.e. getting you extra time on trials).
Check out one of these related posts
🌲Building a habit of checking in with the bigger picture
On the importance of knowing when to sit down and dive deep into your notes... so you don't get overwhelmed always keeping them neat.
🌲 My favorite productivity app that isn't a productivity app
Old, simple tools are often still useful, especially when paired with a practice of frequent check-ins with your goals and mental state.
🌲Using Obsidian for Teaching?
For the most part, my teaching notes are very simple and low-tech. But Obsidian was helpful when I was allowed to use it.