Keeping up a writing habit

Tom Critchlow has some good thoughts about this. I disagree with his number one point though:

Keep a drafts folder

Drafts folders #

Keeping a drafts folder has never worked for me. That was where my perfectionism consigned imperfect projects to die. I would think “this article is okay, but not ready yet. I’ll put it in the drafts folder until I get around to finishing it”.

But I would never finish it. Worse, I knew I would never finish it. My “drafts” folder was a soft “trash” folder.

Better drafts in PKM #

Much more effective for me has been to keep a PKM: a personal knowledge management system.

This is a digital box where I put all my thoughts, held together loosely by always evolving tables of content. Any interesting thoughts I have go in there, and they slowly evolve over time into publishable objects. It’s a process of creation and editing that I actually enjoy. It helps me to think better, to create more, to write more, and to preserve my interests (hopefully) for life.

Writing for yourself #

I think it’s important to write for yourself (which is similar to Tom’s fourth point). I started doing this with simple journal entries, logging what I did each day. This year, in fact, marks ten years since I started doing this. My journals have evolved a lot over the years, and this simple daily practice has certainly made me a far better writer and thinker.

Writing for yourself is also a good way to avoid the trap of “not good enough”. When you’re creating for yourself, it doesn’t have to be good enough. Get some words on to the paper, and worry about “good enough” later.

Once you’ve created enough privately, then you start to notice things that might be useful for other people, and then you can publish with confidence. Thinking about it this way has helped me overcome my fear of failure, and write more than I ever thought possible.

For those interested, I use Obsidian for my PKM. I adore Obsidian, and I just recently created a new site called Obsidian Rocks in order to publish some of what I’ve learned about this incredible tool. If that sounds interesting to you, feel free to check it out.

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