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Some Tips for NaNoWriMo

Many people are trying to write a novel this month so here are some tips for them. My first tip is, don’t spend your time reading about how to write, just write.

Mike shares some tips for making Obsidian the ultimate writing application.

Here is an talk by Stephen King talking about why he doesn’t use a notebook for his ideas. I do like the concept that the good ideas will stick with you and a notebook immortalises bad ideas, or at least ideas that aren’t as good.

Creative writing advice from Neil Gaiman. I love his voice.

Now go write.

Choose your Medium of Study

By necessity a book is an item unto itself. It can’t distract you with an email. No emergency text can come in. You can flip a few pages and find a game to play. A book is the words written on the page, and their interaction with your brain as you read them.

By the same token, a notebook doesn’t have the option of changing to social media or looking up the price of some item you want to purchase. It’s a pen and paper and the words you’ve written down. There is no new plugin to add to your notebook that may enhance some feature you think must be enhanced in the moment. It’s just the notebook in front of you, and the words in your head spit out on paper in ink.

The theory of ebooks was that they would improve upon the old dead printed word on a page and while they have in some ways, they haven’t in others. I love the ability to be travelling and have a dozen books in my bag inside my Kindle. I dislike how the Kindle types so slow, far slower than I can write things down by hand.

If I turned to an iPad, I have a far more responsive device, but the screen doesn’t do well in the sun and the e-ink of a Kindle or Kobo is friendlier on the eyes so a reading session can be longer. Then add all the distractions that a tablet can bring and you’ve got a device that doesn’t push you towards quiet reflection, you have to continually and actively make the choice all the time to be focused.

One of the tips given to people trying to change their eating habits is to make the decision not to eat cookies once, at the grocery store. Don’t bring cookies home and then make the decision daily, because breaking once is often the death knell for that change in habit.

The same idea applies to your reading medium. A physical book is making the choice once to have something that can’t distract you. A Kindle or Kobo is second best because of it’s limitations in how it can distract you. An iPad is worst because you’re always a few taps away from downloading a distraction and participating in it.

These digital devices are also supposed to help us with our notes. Readwise is an excellent service that will sync your Kindle notes back to your note application. But taking a few highlights on your digital reading device fools most people into thinking they really took the notes, that the understand what they read. It also fools them into taking far too many notes. The difficulty in writing something down means that you only take notes on the things that are truly important. Stuff that’s merely interesting you think about, then realize the difficultly you’re about to encounter and move on to reading more.

As I talk to notetakers I continue to find that those who take notes and do a decent job of understanding what they’re reading spend an hour or two working through their notes after they’ve read a book. The notetakers I talk to that read with an ebook seem to be fooled into thinking that the quantity of the notes synced to their vault means they understand what they’ve written.

When you’re looking to think better, the medium you choose impacts how well you dive into the topic you’re thinking about. Choose your medium carefully.

Something Interesting

TfTHacker has released a new tool to help you with Obsidian Canvas called Canvas Candy. I haven’t found a use for Canvas yet (but if you’ve got good ideas send them my way) but after watching many others use it, I think this tool is awesome to help you add some more style to your Canvas projects.

I enjoyed this article on SEO and Google Search Results. In particular this line stuck out to me.

There’s a reason why most countries around the world have libraries that are public institutions: information that is controlled by a private business will always be subject to that business’s bottom line.

What are you doing this week to help our public institutions survive?

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