Adventures in Obsidian

When you're young, you can't help making fun of your elders' inflexibility. You know you used to snicker when you'd hear the old men say stuff like:

You can't mix country music and rock 'n' roll. You can't do it! It just ain't right!

You go about your life in your youthful smug way until you wake up one day and realize you're now that old person. Or, at best, you're becoming that old person. And this is where I find myself at 36 years of age, constantly reminded every single day that I am set in my ways, no matter how unintentionally that happened.

And here I am, giving Obsidian, something which seems to go against everything I know, a shot. And the transition ain't the smoothest.

What is Obsidian

Obsidian touts itself as a second brain.

From their website:

The human brain is non-linear: we jump from idea to idea, all the time. Your second brain should work the same.

Your second brain is comprised of a collection of notes in Markdown, which I consider one of my favorite inventions of all time--I wish I were joking about that.

One of the foundations of Obsidian is linking your posts together. These links help you to jump between files (thoughts). Also, once you've built up some links, you can check out the graph view and get a visual of how your thoughts link together. Let's be honest: The visual is why we're really here. We're doing this for the 'gram.

The graph view from Obsidian's websiteExample of a graph view, from Obsidian's website

What I've tried so far

I've imported my old notes, consisting mostly of blog posts, vignettes, short stories, and notes for a couple novels. I've also started a journal and am in the process of establishing a template for daily entries.

My daily journal template--sure to change

I'm also trying to let go of using folders for organization and instead rely almost solely on links, with some exceptions: So far I have folders for my journal entries, attachments, and templates. There's no reason I can't use more folders, as the option is a core feature of Obsidian, but I figure that doing so will hold me back from embracing this new-to-me system.

My concerns

Can I find a way for Obsidian to benefit me, primarily as a writer? I read an article from a writer who said she breaks her writing into three stages in Obsidian:

  1. Research
  2. Outline
  3. Drafts

You may already do this, but chances are that your three stages aren't literally linked together, making for easy shifting between the steps. She also goes on to talk about how she can open multiple notes at the same time and put her research or outline note next to her draft note.

Another concern: Am I wasting time on something else on the internet that looks shiny and exciting but will ultimately be something that I don't need? There's always a chance of that, but I'll never know if I don't check it out for myself.

And, perhaps most importantly, as I touched on in the introduction of this post, I am realizing that I am set in certain ways, which makes me cringe to say or type. I don't have the brain juice to switch gears, nor do I have the time, so while I'm worried that this new way of doing things may not be for me, I also have to acknowledge that I simply may not be able to embrace something that could benefit me.

Where I'm hopeful

In theory, linking between notes can make journaling useful for me. I've tried journaling in various forms over the years, and nothing has stuck. But, maybe I can have some barebones journal entries with links to other things that materialize from those entries, so while the entries themselves may be uninspiring, perhaps I can literally see (via the graph view) how those entries affect other aspects of my life.

As of right now, Obsidian does not have mobile apps, though they are reportedly in development, so I am hoping that the apps will be up to the standards of the desktop app. Until the mobile apps are released, I can rely on iA writer for editing notes on the go.

Follow along

Someone on recently made the point that more people should share their journeys with new software and methods because it gives others hope and the opportunity to learn along with you, so I'm going to give it a shot. I plan on posting more related posts under the category "Adventures in Obsidian".

Jake LaCaze @jakelacaze