Question for bloggers, journalists, and other short-form writers: How do you organize projects?

I have been a journalist and professional blogger (now doing marketing writing, but same workflow) for many years. A long time ago, I settled on a routine of one folder per project. When I start work on an article, I create a folder for that article, and all research materials, notes, correspondence, and drafts go in that folder.

I’m still using that routine in Obsidian, in addition to creating an Index document which includes links to the other documents. But all that organizational work seems redundant.

My question to other journalists, bloggers, and other short-form article writers:
How do you organize Obsidian?

Related–and this is a quirk of Obsidian that drives me crazy—I have gotten in the habit of using the “Linked Mentions” pane but I don’t like that it only shows the filename of the remote document, and not the full path. The path is relevant information! I have not found a satisfactory workaround. Right now, I repeat path information in the document name, which seems like a waste of time and possibly a cause of errors. Any ideas?

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For writing (and other) projects I still use folders, with a set of standard subfolders that I use as needed. I don’t bother making index files. I use the plugins Folder Note Core and AIdenLX’s Folder Note for folder intro/overviews, and Reveal Active File Button to speed File Explorer navigation.

The lack of paths in filenames has bitten me (and not just in Linked Mentions) but isn’t bothering me too much now. I used to name my folder intro/overviews “ABOUT” (which conveniently sorts to the top) and now I name them after the folder, which solves most of the “Linked Mentions” problem for me. For “scratch” files (brainstorms, experiments, etc.) I name them using an abbreviation of the project name and a sequential number (until recently the names were just timestamps). Fiction projects sometimes have a “Plot” file; I disambiguate them by adding the project name to the top-level heading (I tend not to link from them to files outside the project). Maybe in future I’ll add the project name to the filename; I don’t have a lot of common filenames, so the increased clarity might offset the disadvantages.

What are some of the repeated filenames or types of filenames you use?

I struggled with this a lot, and just kept writing, and now, I just have the document where I’m writing plus one note with basic project info. Everything else is in a folder in my email where I track the back-and-forth, drafts, contracts, etc.

@CawlinTeffid The filenames I have trouble with are “index,” “notes,” “draft.” The pathname tells me which project each of those documents is associated with.

I also edit a weekly newsletter, and could see myself having document names like “18 draft.md,” with the rest of the date spelled out in yearly and monthly folders.

@austin I assume the kind of writing you do does not involve notes and outlines?

I start with outlines and then write over them. Any notes I link to or copy and paste into the piece. I don’t “build” up articles from atomic notes. So fancy!

And all the pieces I’ve done in Obsidian are 2500 words or less, so it’s enough to almost fit into your head.

I have a book I’m trying to finish that’s in Scrivener, but now that I write mostly on an iPad, I just can’t work in Scrivener’s iPad app. AND, I don’t think I could write a book in Obsidian.

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I’ve not experienced any issues with projects.
I have a system of highly nested vaults, projects have their own folder immediately they have more than one file, and I don’t use generic names. Also unafraid of file duplication - I want everything relevant in the vault so I can copy it and know I have everything relevant to use elsewhere.

I use the Obsidian vault system for everything, even projects where I never use Obsidian.

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I am afraid of nested vaults. Because they are unsupported, I fear data corruption.

What is your system for unique file names? Mine is simple: I have a keyword for the project, and use that in the folder name, and then use that same keyword to start each file name. That is my current system, but it seems redundant to me, which is why I started this thread.

And some of my projects resist short keywords. For example, as I said, one of my responsibilities is to edit a weekly newsletter, and that involves using the date for disambiguation.

For the weekly newsletter, perhaps you could use sequential issue numbers as a shorter way to disambiguate, or week numbers (like 2022W03) as a less-shorter way.

For “index”, “notes”, and “draft” I don’t have any amazing insight, but here are my ways:

  • For “draft” I normally include the name — sometimes a less-condensed name than I’ve used for the project, to more closely match the title.
  • I think my equivalent to “index” is a folder note which has the same name as the folder. The Folder Note plugin keeps the names in sync, reducing the chance of errors.
  • For “notes”, I usually have multiple notes files. Most have individual names that are unlikely to be widely duplicated; for those with common names (“plot”, “characters”, etc.) I include the project name. If I don’t need multiple files, I just use the folder note.

The number of filenames that include the project name is small enough that I don’t worry much about errors or having to rename them. I’d like to use common names, and have done it before, but apps often make it inconvenient (for example, not showing the path in the titlebar). I’ve reluctantly accepted that that’s just how it is now and for the foreseeable future.

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There’s no need to be. I think I must have been one of the first to use them, and the dire warnings made me search for as many problems as I could. Having used this system for the best part of two years, I have encountered no booby traps or tripwires. If you know where you are, and understand the structure of your nested system and are typically careful rather than careless, there are no problems. They are unsupported because they enable problems with links - most particularly by clicking on a link and accepting the offer to create a new note when the linked note already exists, but is not accessible from that vault - but enable is not the same as cause. I’ve seen worse data loss from plugins than nested vaults can possibly create. If you have versions and backups (separate to any sync solution) I’d expect you to be fine since the question behind the whole thread suggests that you work systematically and with care.

For myself, I go even further by using external tools for moving and renaming files, though it’s not something I need to do often. Again, it works because I’m aware of when I shouldn’t do that.

With nested vaults, the importance of unique names reduces. They are not something I fret over: I expect them to be uinque because, like you, I do use project prefixes where it seems necessary as well as explanatory names; the prefix will usually just be three letters. I do that to know exactly what they are rather than any desire for unique names. I have a date/time autotext on a text expander and I apply that when I want to be sure the name is unique (for instance on journal entries).

For a weekly newsletter, I’d make the newsletter a vault. If there are many files for each issue, I’d make each issue a folder; if not, I’d prefix each note with the issue number/date - assuming you work on each issue contemporaneously, I’d again do a text expander shortcut which I’d update each week as the issue advanced.

This system would be independent of Obsidian, but also tick the boxes Obsidian requires to work.

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I’m a long-time blogger, new Obsidian user. Having a whole folder for an article seems needlessly unwieldy to me, for Obsidian.

It makes more sense to me to have a single note that’s the “hub” for that project, and link from it to all of the supporting documentation. You could even have an outline in that note and then also a section of the note that’s “supporting materials.”

But I would probably not create folders for anything narrower than, say, the outlet (or maybe even group of outlets, if you’re a freelancer and only have a few articles per outlet).

For instance, I have two blogs. I can have a folder for each blog, but I have 2000+ posts on my one blog. I don’t need or want 2000 separate folders in my vault.

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I think I’ve found a system that works for me. A friend screenshared her Obsidian setup with me. It was similar to mine—and she was happy with it—and funny thing, but when I was seeing it in HER vault, rather than MINE, it looked fine.

Now I’m giving a folder a full, descriptive name, and including a short keyword in that. I start each document within the folder with the keyword. And seems to work out OK in the file explorer and quick open popup.

I also think I need to take better advantage of the system file explorer (in my case, as a Mac user, that’s the FInder), system search (Spotlight) and other applications where appropriate. Use Obsidian for what it’s good for, and use other applications on documents in the vault when that is appropriate.

@a2jc4life Often I have a dozen or more separate documents going into a single article or project, so one folder per project seems appropriate.

Also, over time pre-Obsidian I evolved a flat folder hierarchy with LOTS of folders, and then I sort the folders by most-recent-first. I’ll often have folders with only three documents in them, and I’m OK with that.

Related, follow-up question: those of you who are writing blog posts or articles using Obsidian – do you keep a copy of the completed post in Obsidian, as well? And, if so, is that complete with images & other media, or just the text?

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I save the web page to DevonThink, a document manager that runs on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

I do the final draft in Obsidian and copy it into my blog or Google docs. (All my recent clients have used Google Docs).

And I keep the draft there and do not update it any further. I just change the status to published and add the final URL.

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I do the final draft in Obsidian and export to Microsoft Word, because that is the format my employer requires.

  • In some cases, they have a Word template, and I cut-and-paste bits from the article in Obsidian to the appropriate spots on the Word template.
  • For other types of article, I just export in one unit. For a few months, I used the Pandoc plugin to Obsidian. Now, I set the view of the Obsidian document to “reading” view, and cut-and-paste the formatted text from that into a blank Word document. I may go back to using Pandoc.

I do a read-through of the Word document, often making fiddly changes to wording, and then send it out in email to my editors, often uploading it to an internal server as well.

As I said, when the article is published, I save it to DevonThink. More precisely–I save it to DevonThink when I remember to do so. Honestly, once the article is published, I’m pretty much done with it and have moved on.

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I wrote a more in-depth piece on this here, but, basically, I keep logs of all my writing projects on separate notes orgazined based on general subject. So, one note/page might have ten projects on it. I log everything I worked on that day on the piece under the linked title along with thoughts I have on where I want to take the piece, or cues to myself for the next writing session. Everything is time/date stamped as well. It’s been wonderful, I never have to go into my folders.

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I use a little lighter weigh tracking for my pieces. These are all shorter pieces that “fit” in a single note.


# {{title}}

SubjectArea TopicKeyword #writing-format/post #writing-status/draft  

> [!info]-  
> - Next:: Draft
> - Last:: Created {{date}}
> - Summary:: 
> - Pub:: %%agux%%

Write

In Next, I record what I should do next. In last, I record the last thing I did. Pub is where it’s intended to run, and status records idea, draft, production, scheduled, or published.

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Nice. Is this I for on the piece itself, or is it collected on a doc containing multiple pieces?

In the piece itself.

I gave up tracking everything in one place. I manage deadlines in my task manager.