Burn After Writing


I think I've experimented with just about every method imaginable for organizing my writing. Recent trends point me towards zettelkastens, backlinks, and other, less savory terms like "second brain". When I spend so much time writing useless things I feel I owe myself to organize them, lest I miss out on some revelatory moment that spurs a successful novel. I'm still waiting.

Despite trying all the flavors, no technique has stuck. Most often the strategy is too strict; the burden of placing a note in the right place has me forgetting my original intention for writing it.

The conclusion I've come to is that I've spent far too many hours researching a topic that is uniquely personal.

My primary goal in writing is to write. Not to denote, tag, or organize. Not to bibliograph, or space-ly repeat, or architect a knowledge graph. And the best tool I've found for the job of writing remains pen and paper.

Paper doesn't hide mistakes and offers no grammar plugin to help disguise your voice. Writing by hand is slow and meditative, ensuring each word is adequately chewed over before it's spat out. Best of all, I can stash that thought deep inside a notebook on my shelf and never have to look at it again.

That shelf houses all of my writings, a bunch of notebooks piled together in neat stacks. I'm comforted that I won't easily find thoughts from previous me without digging through them all, one by one. What use are those ideas anyway, now that I've changed since writing them?

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