NaNoWriMo / Obsidian?

I didn’t know about the tab indenting, but yeah I sometimes move text via highlighting. Just feels clunky compared to OneNote but it’s one small con next to a huge list of pros in Obsidian for me so I don’t mind much.

Hmm. I may explore this then. I like the idea of the “monolithic” vault but it just clutters up my novel prep a bit. I may just need to be smarter with my use of links and tags.

My top vault is monolithic. Has everything except my secure vaults. Allows me to focus on a project but also access other notes when needed.

Hello! I’m the author of Longform. This was an illuminating thread. I’m eager to add some of the features mentioned here; my job is pretty demanding atm, as is my toddler, so work on the plugin has slowed. I’m thrilled to read that people are planning to use it for nanowrimo!

The only other thing I think is worth adding is that the container of a fluid thing shapes what it holds. A writer’s tools are a part of the novel. While I’m doing my best to keep Longform usable by others, it is opinionated for this reason, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to use it if it doesn’t fit.


I think this is a key observation. It’s possibly a reason I never took to Scrivener, and why I ended up returning to a single markdown file rather than sections in separate notes. Despite the relative lack, in any program, of good management features for the header outline/scenes etc.

I’m surprised by the impact of the container, since intellectually the structure is the same no matter what, but it does seem to be the case - for me at least

I look forward to any developments in Longform.

New forum user here, this is my first post. I had to set up an account just to jump into this discussion. :slight_smile:

I too jumped ship from Scrivener, after using it for about 7 years and over 100 projects. I played around with using Word or ODT files for a bit, but was getting corrupted files and it wasn’t really functioning the way that I wanted to.

I also used Evernote for my notes, but left them a few years ago, tried OneNote for about a year, and found it didn’t work for me and there was no exit without copying and pasting every note I had made since leaving Evernote.

I moved onto plain text files for my writing (and text, docx, or pdf for notes and clipping), and then after using Notebooks app for a while, eased into using md format.

Enter Obsidian a few months ago and upping my game! I am now using it for all of my notes. I use Notebooks and Obsidian together for my writing. They both use the same flavour of md, though there are a few unique points for each.

One of the things that Notebooks gives me is the ability to compile a folder of 50 chapters into a single book file in a couple of clicks. Usually, I have my novel draft open in Notebooks, and my series wiki, notes, etc. open in Obsidian and bounce back and forth between them without having to lose my place. With them both reading markdown files, they are sympatico and I can access the files on all of my devices. (On iOS, I use 1Writer.)

I have published 76 novels, so while my process is always evolving, I have settled into a number of patterns and habits.

My file tree structure:

Series folder

  • subfolder for the series wiki (series Bible)
  • subfolder for each book in the series

Book subfolders

  • backup - every few days, I compile my chapter files into a backup file and move it to this folder - and yes, everything is also backed up using Dropbox versions and Time Machine external drives, but I’ve lost/corrupted files before, so I’m pretty obsessive
  • characters - while I do have files for all of my characters in the series wiki folder, I have character sheets for the main characters in each book with questions and notes about their character arcs for that particular book as well
  • archived - old versions of anything
  • draft - each chapter is a separate md file, numbered so that I can sort them properly in any file browser or app
  • graphics - cover art, promo, ads, etc.
  • my notes - plotting/outline, research, pictures of whiteboard and index cards, etc. A combination of md files, pdfs, jpgs, etc.
  • published - output folder for vellum files
  • todo - one or more md notes with things I need to remember to do later, properly marked with - [ ]

One convention that I have been using over the past year or so is to tag the main characters and setting in each scene in the title/filename so that I can quickly filter down to all of a character’s scenes, for example. So a chapter title may look something like:

2 discovery of body in ^woods !Terry !Sheriff

That way it is super easy to find a scene no matter what program or file browser I am in.

But I wanted to include more metadata in the files and to be able to play with it in dataview if I wanted to. I ran into a bit of a roadblock, because I wanted it to all be available in both Notebooks and Obsidian, and not to interfere with book compiling in Notebooks. Notebooks doesn’t use YAML, Obsidian doesn’t use pandoc headers, Notebooks uses // for comments, Obsidian uses %%. After several failed attempts, I found that I could use <!-- --> html comments in both, and that comments would not be visible after compiling in Notebooks (which is what I wanted.)

So going forward, I am now removing my tags from the filenames, and doing something like this as the chapter front matter instead:

2 Discovery of the body

<!-- Character:: !Terry 
Character:: !Sheriff 
Character:: !Bernt
Setting:: ~woods 
Draft:: 2 
Grammarly:: - [x] -->

It’s great to have P.D. Workman (@pdworkman) join this thread with real practical advice.

If you don’t mind a few questions:

  • How are you using Notebooks + Obsidian? Are all the folders you mentioned part of an Obsidian vault that is also indexed in Notebooks?
  • Are you using any plugins in Obsidian to assist your process other than Dataview?
  • Any Dataview snippets you would be willing to share?

Yes, all of the folders are part of an Obsidian vault that is also indexed in Notebooks.

No process-related plugins. A couple of formatting tools - Admonition Blocks and Advanced Tables, and Obsidian Tabs for multi-tab management, but that’s it. Minimal distraction while I’m writing.

I have just started setting up the metadata for Dataview, so I don’t have any snippets yet! But I am looking forward to playing with it and coming up with some queries just because I like to tinker…

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Okay, had a bit of time to play with Dataview today, so my metadata code has been updated a bit in my initial post to something that plays better with Dataview, and I have my first new snippets.

(Sorry, I’m not sure how to get it to show the backticks, I can’t nest them)

# Chapter Summary

	Character AS "Who?", 
	Setting AS "Where?", 
FROM "On the Slab Pie ACB 18/draft" 

# Notes
``` dataview
FROM "On the Slab Pie ACB 18/draft" 
	Note !=null



(Sorry, I’m not sure how to get it to show the backticks, I can’t nest them)

Just as a sidenote comment, you can show backticks by surrounding them with an outer layer of backticks if that outer layer has more backticks than the snippet you would like to showcase.

If your code snippet as 3 backticks at the start/end you can embed them in this forum by surrounding your code block with for example 4 backticks before/after. Anything more than 3 works. Like this, where I’m surrounding it with 4:

TABLE WITHOUT ID (inlink + " (" + length( + ")") AS Receiver, link(sort( AS Sender
FROM "inbox"
WHERE file.outlinks
FLATTEN file.outlinks AS inlink 
GROUP BY inlink
SORT length( DESC

Just popping in to let you guys know that we created a nanowrimo group for nanowrimo but the interface isn’t great and caps at 20, so @kinabalu is working on a plugin (hopefully for this year, maybe for next year). We’ve been discussing it in the #nanowrimo 2021 thread under #creative channel in the Discord if you want to join us there. We’ve also been coordinating writing sprints (for practice / to see how it works — hopefully we can move this into a plugin in Obsidian somehow :exploding_head: ) using this persistent link: Word Sprints - myWriteClub

They run from :00 to :25 and :30 to :55 every hour by default and anybody can show up :slight_smile:


Ah, perfect. I will edit!

I have since also added Day:: since I am frequently going back over my manuscript trying to figure out what day of the week a thing happened, or to make sure that I don’t have two weekends too close together. :slight_smile:

And I’m thinking of adding Editor:: for notes to my editor, but haven’t decided yet whether that is worth breaking out of my general Notes::

Interested in this subject as fellow writer, I’ve done extensive writing on Scrivener and research but I find the way of connecting notes for Obsidian tempts me to move into it and use it instead…

And this makes a huge difference to how easy it is to work with chapters, scenes etc.

  • You can now use drag and drop to re-arrange heading sections from the Outline pane.
  • You can also drop an outline item into the editor to generate a heading link.

Plus Live Preview (which makes a difference to some). Only in insider release for now, but coming soon.

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I’m not sure if this is the best place to put it, but I have written a blog post on noveling in Obsidian. I’ll probably tweak it over time, but here it is for now:


There is a wealth of tips/tricks/ideas in that post - everyone here should read it! Thank You!


A very interesting read. Thanks for sharing.



Vellum files? Do you mean the iOS app Vellum wallpapers?

No, it’s a different app — their blog post linked above explains it. NaNoWriMo / Obsidian? - #38 by pdworkman

Here is a link to Vellum, used for formatting for publication: