How can my note archive be a creative tool?
That’s the most critical question to ask to a Zettelkasten, meaning “slip-box” in English. It’s your archive of notes, one concept per note, tightly interconnected.
Ideally, starting from access points, you should be able to navigate, like you would do on the Web using a Web Browser, from note to note, from concept to concept.
It works only if you always connect the new notes you create. Otherwise, you make isolated islands, or worst, dead ends.
Working with your creative mind should be something you should never force yourself to do. There should always be something interesting to be done.
That’s the purpose of a Zettelkasten, and it is a tool using which you think. It is not an archive of dead words.
You should even be able to pick one note randomly, and like Alice, in the rabbit hole, you should be able to find shiny threads of inspiration.
As Dave Gray somewhere wrote: “you cannot build your network when you need one,” I would paraphrase it by saying, “you cannot build a Zettelkasten when you need one.”
That’s why the systematic and continuous creation of well-written and well-connected notes feed the network of thoughts of your Zettelkasten.
When you have enough notes connected, you can start letting your creativity emerge out of it. That is the moment when you can begin to practice your networked thinking.
But, just by telling this story, I feel like I’ve collected some useful thoughts. It might become my revised description of what is a Zettelkasten and how to use a Zettelkasten.
It’s a good blog post working as an excellent starting draft for my notes.
Capture bits of information into well-written and well-connected notes. Add them to your Zettelkasten to make it grow and become more connected. It will become your favorite thinking tool.