The practice of writing in Obsidian

I hope this is the appropriate rubric for my request: as an academic who is growing increasingly disenchanted with Scrivener, I would love to hear more about how people use Obsidian for longer writing projects.

I realize there is quite a bit of discussion on this subject out there (and on this forum), but much of it centers on referencing and output workflows. I am more interested in what happens in between. For instance, do you use links, backlinks and transclusions in the main body of the text to refer to relevant notes? (I find this useful when it comes to taking notes and forming ideas, but distracting and confusing when it comes to the actual writing.) How do you structure the writing? Do you use separate pages for each chapter/section, or do you put everything on one page separated by headers? Do you use folders or MoCs to arrange and rearrange the different segments of your draft? Let’s hear about the nitty-gritty of the practice of writing in Obsidian.


I’m also looking for answers to this question, because I am myself developing my method, which is still not perfect. I tend to write a bit like I do research, where the form creates itself based on the need. For example, I will start a paper on one file only. If the paper becomes too large, then I may separate it in parts and have a master with transclusions, but this would be more logical for a long form writing than a paper. Plus, by keeping it in one file, I keep the online pane open so I can navigate from one section to another, or reorder sections using drag-drop.

Regarding the links to relevant notes, I do research using a kind-of Zettelkasten method, but without UIDS. The file name convey the message, which means my file names look like ↑Force → ↑, which reads like “increasing force causes speed to increase”.

I also have literature notes, that begin with @ and that are linked to Zotero via Citations plugin, and that serve as citation purpose in each of my notes.

Therefore, when I write a new paper, I will start by drafting the message I want to convey using series of links:

Smith et al. [[@smith1999_forcesincreasesspeed]] discovered that [[↑Force → ↑Speed]].


Once the message is drafted, I rewrite in text but keep the references in comments.

Smith et al. [[@smith1999_forcesincreasesspeed]] discovered that increasing force increases speed.
%%  [[↑Force → ↑Speed]] %%

At the end, I use Obsidian-Pandoc to create a Word file and I process the references and cross-references (figures, etc.) (still a manual part, though).

Really not perfect, but I like it so far.

1 Like

There are plugins such as “longform” to help tie scenes together. I’m still exploring the concepts.
Currently my unpublished series exists on a private MediaWiki but that has it’s own pitfalls with having to create methods of transcluding disparate pieces and then recreating concepts found in Wikipedia to create character profile pages that list out who’s related to who and in what context, major and minor appearances in scene lists, etc… not to mention my obsession with needing to plot out events in a timeline which for Scrivener was yet another purchase item from another user in the scrivener community (I didn’t bother with it, as it was the nail in the coffin for me). Like you I was a scrivener user. Even after they announced killing off the Linux version. It took quite some time to move off of scrivener.

I am pondering moving all of that to obsidian but haven’t taken the plunge. As it is I see it will require using several plugins to achieve it and then that introduces other problems as some plugins are no longer updated. And then if I want to export this notebook in the future for potential fans with all the character profile sheets and such it may just be simpler to keep it in the MediaWiki…


To add a bit of information since you bring the subject, I decided from the beginning to use a flat-file structure, to 1) avoid messing with links that could, in certain circumstances, not be updated when a file changes folder.; 2) have relative paths that are compatible with standard Markdown.

This creates a need to separate files of different nature. Some may use tags, I prefer a more direct option, I prefix my files with an emoji that tells the nature of the file.
:seedling: Evergreen note
@ Reference (literature note)
:fountain_pen: Draft of a paper
:film_strip: Slide
:bar_chart: Data
:bust_in_silhouette: Person

This way I always know what I’m referring to just by looking at the link. You guess that in the writing process, I will often see three emojis in my links:

:seedling: Evergreen note
@ Reference (literature note)
:fountain_pen: Draft of a paper

1 Like

@felixchenier If you haven’t already heard of it, you may be interested in the following plugin thread: Supercharged Links showcase

I am considering using it as well, but also see possible benefits to using your method of having the emoji in the actual note name. Thanks.

1 Like

Wow, @I-d-as , I didn’t know this plugin. I can see lots of use cases, but for my case it’s way overkill :slight_smile:
Thanks for sharing.

1 Like