Is this a legitimate way to start my Obsidian journey?

Things I have tried

I’ve only come across Obsidian yesterday so I’m starting from scratch. I’ve began to jot some notes, but my mind is getting distracted by also thinking of all the topic’s potential links and the general bigger picture in Obsidian.

What I’m trying to do

I was wondering if it was stupid to go crazy and create notes with nothing in them yet apart from links to other notes, to build up a network that I can finetune as I continue. I’m not sure I can bear such a slow build (in terms of seeing it take shape). What are your thoughts on this?

About the “slow build” you mentioned, that’s probably just going to be the truth of starting out on a new program. It’ll take a while to get notes in your vault and to make connections between them. If you have notes in other apps or programs that you’d like to import into your Obsidian vault, that can speed up the process. For example when I first started with Obsidian in November, I had already been using Notion for about a year so I was able to copy/paste some stuff from that into my vault to kind of get the ball rolling. Right now I have about 350 notes in my main vault, but probably 150-200 of those were added in the first couple of days just bringing stuff over from other apps. But that isn’t necessary, the whole point of “personal knowledge management” software is to gradually build it up over time with useful data that you want to refer back to later, and to make it easier to find that data when you need it.

As for making links to notes that don’t exist yet, there are two ways to make that work that I think might be worth a try. First, when you’re typing a note you can just pop brackets around something that you want to expand upon later. That way, you can keep typing without interrupting your flow, while leaving yourself an empty link as a reminder to come back to that other topic. I do this ALL the time. The second is what a lot of people call “Maps of content.” A map of content (you’ll see people shorten it to MOC a lot) is a note that’s sole purpose is to link to other notes. Think “Table of Contents” for your vault. So for example, I have a “Home Page” that helps me navigate my vault, and from the Home Page I can click links to my “Creative Hub,” “Personal Hub” or a few other categories. Then those notes link to the more granular notes where actual information is stored. Of course, that’s just one way to organize, and a lot of people would probably hate my method so take what works for you and throw away what doesn’t.

Some people love using MOCs to organize their vaults into a web of interconnected ideas (myself included). Others prefer to just link notes to other notes, without any “table of contents” but rather just stumble across connections as they happen organically. That’s a totally valid option too. The whole point of programs like Obsidian is to make a system that works for you, and to remove as much friction as possible. So no, it’s not stupid to go crazy and have fun with it, if it works for you. Heck, worst case scenario if you hate it you can always just create a new vault and start over. I made like ten different vaults testing random stuff out before I settled on the 2-3 that I actually use. (I mainly just use one “Personal Wiki” vault, but I keep some things separate like I’m working on a “Media Library” to catalog books and movies and stuff I own that doesn’t need to be in my main vault)

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I think you can start with the daily note.
No matter you like it or not, the time always elapses. And your big goal is achieved by the daily work. So I think the daily note will be a good start point. Within and by the help of the daily note, you can find and create your own note system gradually.

Thanks for the detailed reply! Your first thought was what I was thinking but the note being simply list of them, to see the connections start to form. I feel like I’m mentally creating connections already but there’s no way of keeping up with my thought process if I’m sitting fleshing out one note at a time. I guess those connections are supposed to naturally recur to me anyway?

Wouldn’t you need a bunch of notes before you could create your MOCs?

Thanks again, maybe I’ll create one vault just to start with this web and another to actually go through the slow burn.

I’m still not quite sure what the purpose of the daily note is. Seems like a normal planner, no? But I don’t see how that ties into the knowledge side, which is what I want to use Obsidian for, or why it’s an advantage to use it in here rather than my pre-existing apps.

I use daily note as the inbox to catch the information I get and what i thought. And then i make an instant connection with the content in the note system or come back later to see why this idea or information attracts my attention.

The daily note is also used to form a habit to taking notes, practice the skill of processing information, and review my life periodically.

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Thanks for the cogent and thoughtful reply. Very helpful!

I see, thanks!

Not necessarily. MOCs don’t have to be set in stone (nothing does, for that matter) and you can create them as you need them. For example, since I want to write a novel, a lot of notes I take are writing tips and quotes from authors. So when I first started taking notes on that topic, I made a new page just called “Writing Tips” that started out empty, but as I take notes I add them to it. But while I was taking notes on writing, I thought of a cool idea for a story. So I created a new MOC page called “Story Ideas” and put a link there to the note with my cool new idea. After a few weeks I noticed my “Story Ideas” was getting cluttered with a whole bunch of random ideas that could be completely unrelated, so I decided to make new MOC pages to organize them. So for example, I have a page for Plot Ideas, a page for Character Ideas, a page for Setting Ideas, etc. So my “Story Ideas” MOC turned into a hub that branches out into more specific MOC pages as I need them.

All of that is just to say, a cool aspect of Obsidian is that it can grow and change as you need it to. Just this morning I spent like ten minutes changing my Daily Notes Template because I thought of an idea that might make it work better for me. It was good before, but it’s better now. It’s kind of tough to get into that mindset, at least for me, but I’m learning that my vault is super flexible and I can mold it into whatever I need it to be. And if my needs change, my vault can change again.

I wouldn’t say “those connections are supposed to naturally recur to you.” Instead, I’d say your vault needs to be set up however works best for the way you think. I’ve heard it referred to as “Friction”: if something about your vault causes “friction” while you work, meaning there’s something getting in the way and slowing you down, then see if you can change it to lessen the friction. That’s why I changed up my Daily Notes Template earlier today, I noticed something that was working okay but not optimal, so I fixed it up to make it work better, which allows me to work easier. So if making links as you go along doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to do that! Maybe instead you need to push the “New Note” button and write down the other idea you had, then come back to the original note and link it later. Or maybe you need to have multiple notes open at once so you can flesh out one note, and use the second note as a “catch-all” note where you write the random thoughts that pop into your head to sort later. Or maybe you need to keep some Post-It notes at your desk. Whatever works for you, and you don’t have to stick with just one method either. For example, some days I use my Daily Note a ton, keeping track of all my tasks and journal about what happens to me during the day. Other days, I don’t touch my daily note because my tasks for the day are in my head and I forget to journal. Neither is wrong, it’s just what I needed that day.

I would say if you want to build two vaults to see what works best for you, that’s absolutely a valid option. I had several vaults before I settled on my current setup. I would caution you that it can be tough trying to keep track of info in multiple locations, so you might want to use the two vaults for separate topics (one for work and one personal, for example) or figure out a way to ensure the information gets both places easily. Since notes are just text files, you could go into your Obsidian folder on you hard drive and just copy/paste notes from one vault into the other. This is tough to sustain though, and ultimately just creates more work for you so I’d be careful how you use the two vaults.

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