Over the past couple of years, I’ve depended on the Obsidian app because it’s made organizing my writing projects easier.
Organization can be a challenge for any writer. Obsidian can link documents, so I use it to get organized at various stages of writing process, including:
- Exploring ideas.
- Developing and drafting versions.
It’s available for your favorite operating system: Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile.
Basically, as I’ve mentioned, Obsidian helps me to develop a stress-free writing process.
Obsidian helps you develop a stress-free writing process
Creativity is messy. If you do a lot of writing, you open many documents. You may have a dozen browser tabs open at once, combined with several apps, all with their own documents.
That’s fine, but if you’re working on several large projects, it’s a big challenge to orient yourself from one day to another. At times, you feel overwhelmed; this leads to procrastination. Obsidian minimizes procrastination: your documents are linked, so you can organize a Table of Contents, and easily navigate from research to the final revision on a project.
Although I often recommend Obsidian as the perfect writers’ studio, Obsidian can feel overwhelming. There seems to be so much to learn, but that’s not really accurate.
Once you’ve learned the basics of Markdown, which takes all of five minutes, all you need to know is that your Obsidian vaults–vaults are collections of Obsidian Markdown files–each live in a single folder on your file system, and that Obsidian accepts various file formats.
Let’s look at other tips you can use today.
1. Remember only as much Markdown (formatting for plain text) as you need
I’m no Markdown expert. My expertise is limited to minor formatting, such as headings, bold, italics, and links. Here’s Obsidian’s own advice on its flavor of Markdown.
Please don’t get too hung up on Markdown. You’ll get the gist quickly, and you’ll find yourself using Markdown everywhere; even in apps without support for it. (Mildly amusing.)
If you need a command you haven’t memorized, Obsidian offers a command palette. Use it (Command + P on a Mac), or set your own hotkeys for the commands and formatting you use most often.
The big advantage of Obsidian is that you don’t need to worry about formatting, you can format later.
Perhaps the command you’ll use most often is for a linked document, while you’re in the middle of writing something.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a webpage, and you get an idea for an additional useful page–a page you haven’t planned. Open two square brackets ([[), type the page name, then two closing brackets (]]). Obsidian creates a linked page for you. To switch to that page; click the link. You can open the newly created page in another tab, or a new window, if you wish.
2. Restrict your plugins: you don’t need every plugin available
Obsidian is endlessly customizable with plugins. It has number of core plugins: turn on the ones you need, and forget the rest.
Similarly with community plugins. Install what you need. If a plugin isn’t what you expect, remove it. For example, the Advanced Tables and Dataview plugins are hugely popular. I don’t need tables, and Dataview has a learning curve. I’ve been promising myself to get to grips with it, real soon now; admittedly, it’s unlikely I’ll have time.
I uninstalled the Calendar plugin, because it’s not a replacement for a calendar/ task manager, and I wasn’t using it. Your mileage may vary, especially if you use the Templater plugin.
Once you’re comfortable, try any plugins which sound useful; turn them off and delete them if you’re not using them.
Problems with the app? Start deactivating plugins; it may help.
3. Be wary of themes: pretty is as pretty does
We’re all different, with different ways of working. Users have developed many Obsidian themes; they’re wonderful. However, when version 1.0 of the app was released, my then-favorite theme couldn’t cope. So I went back to the default theme for the app.
If the app starts behaving oddly on your system, try going back to the default theme.
You can get comfortable with Obsidian within a couple of hours
Obsidian make your life easier.
Tried it but given up? Experiment with the above tips. Before you know it, you may be as fond of the app as I am; it helps you to meet your freelance deadlines.
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