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Nicola Fisher


10 thoughts about Obsidian after using it for a year

It's a year since I first came across Obsidian. The concepts of PKM and Second Brain were new to me, although I'd been a note taker for a long time. I hadn't appreciated the possibilities of links and connections between ideas. Obsidian lit a fire beneath me and for a few weeks I'd wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, and have to implement it straight away. 12 months later, here's what I think about Obsidian. (I'm planning to expand on this list in a Medium post).

    1. Obsidian has helped me become a more prolific writer

    I'd been using a combination of different tools - Bear, Evernote, OneNote. Obsidian was just different. It made it easier for me to see links between ideas. It became the bucket where I dropped information. Learning of David Perell's 'writing with abundance' approach was a lightbulb moment for me. I started importing Kindle Highlights, Matter, Readwise. I clipped paragraphs from web pages. Once in Obsidian, I added tags.

    These imports often became the starting point for ideas and inspiration for my own writing.

    I like the Obsidian layout and find it conducive to writing. Going down the rabbit hole of PKM introduced me to others who shared their setups and best practice.

    The PKM community on Twitter led me to Ship 30 for 30, which opened my eyes to digital and online writing.

    2. Obsidian evolves as I do

    The beauty of Obsidian, for me, is making it bespoke. I've changed my folder structure several times. Sometimes I've had no folders and relied on tags. Other times, I've rearranged my folders. Because Obsidian is a top layer over your directory of text files, it's child's play to drag and drop files locally which then is replicated in Obsidian.

    The main reason I've stuck with Obsidian is because it grows with me.

    3. Writing in public

    A Ship 30 for 30 concept, Obsidian lends itself to writing in public. I started out with Obsidian Publish, a paid for option that allows you to link a domain name and create a web presence. You select the notes you want to share. A lot of Obsidian users share their digital garden. I did, too, in the beginning. And then I focused on sharing my writing.

    4. Text files

    Derek Sivers is a fan of text files. ( I realised, somewhat belatedly that text files have longevity. I've lost so many files over the years because they've been associated with an app and I've not been able to export them. Or, even when I could export them, the file format was not easily read. Before the Obsidian iOS app went live I used 1Writer to read and edit files on the go. It's good not to be reliant on just one app.

    5. Going paperless

    I'm having a blitz at the moment on unnecessary paperwork. I'm scanning as much as I can and adding it to my Obsidian Vault. (Yes, in light of idea #4, scanning has its pros and cons!). While I'll need to keep key documents, I want to seriously reduce our paperwork.

    Today, I've scanned recipes pulled from magazines over the years. Now in a baking/recipes folder and with titles like 'chocolate cake (favourite)', I hope to get round to doing more baking.

    6. Book writing

    Obsidian has been brilliant for outlining and writing the book I'm working on. I created a table of contents and then outlined the chapters. As I wrote the chapters, I backlinked the note to the table of contents. I found this really helpful in giving me greater visibility of what I was working on. Each section was a separate note meaning I could re-order content easily. There's also a plugin that allows you to compile your book at the end.

    7. Markdown

    I like using Markdown. I write in Obsidian and then copy and paste into Medium. My content transfers well.

    8. Writing workflow

    Obsidian is a key element of my writing workflow. Everything starts in Napkin where I log ideas. These can then be exported to Obsidian. I have folders containing ideas, drafts and published articles. I can also export from Obsidian to Medium.


    9. Extendable

    Obsidian can be as simple or as complex as you like. It can be extended with plugins and code. No two Obsidian setups are the same.

    10. Repository

    As well as being my writing hub, Obsidian is a repository for key information, documents, and work-related content. It can be a task manager and a to do list. You can keep daily notes, and use dataview to track specific data.

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