Building a Zettelkasten for Creative Expression

Everything you need to build, maintain, and discuss zettelkasten

︎Tuesdays: June 7, 14, 21, 28
︎11am–1pm EST (NYC)

︎Thursdays: June 9, 16, 23, 30
︎11am–12pm EST (NYC)

︎ $480

Create a robust and dynamic, linked-thought system that will continue to grow and provide an endless amount of written material.

Building a Zettelkasten for Creative Expression is a 4-week course on how to build out, implement, and use a zettelkasten for writing. There will be two sessions per week: one 1.5–2 hour didactic session (lecture with Q&A) and one 1-hour “open studio” session where students can get feedback on their assignments.

What You Will Learn

Students will come away from this course with:

  • The skills to create their own zettelkasten
  • Knowledge on how to turn their zettelkasten into a “writing machine”
  • A comprehensive understanding of everything associated with zettelkasten: note types, terminology, theory, and practices
  • A workflow to continuously generate new content
  • Familiarity with the major written sources on zettelkasten

Who will most benefit from this course?

  • Students who have a familiarity with either Obsidian, Roam, Notion, or any other comparable digital or physical platform / system
  • Students who have at least a general sense of what they write about or would like to write about
  • Students who are comfortable participating and getting feedback on their work

This course will not:

  • Be an in-depth look at how to use specific digital platforms (Students must come with either a digital or analog platform they’re familiar with and would like to use)
  • Make your zettelkasten for you

Course Outline

Capturing Fleeting and Reference Notes

In Week 1, students will be brought up to speed on the major tenets of the zettelkasten method to writing, including both the history and the terminology associated with the practice.

You will learn:

  • How to capture content
  • How to create reference (literature) notes
  • How to determine what content might be relevant to you
  • Where to store your different notes

⭐️ Week 1 Open Studio Topic: Examining your captures

Creating Zettels

During Week 2, we will do a deep dive into the most common and frequently misunderstood notes in the zettelkasten: The Permanent Zettel.

You will learn:

  • How to turn fleeting and reference notes into permanent zettels
  • What goes into making useful, "sticky" zettels
  • How and why we create atomic notes
  • The power of titles
  • How pre-distilled, atomic notes lead to endless writing projects (AKA never have writer’s block again)

⭐️ Week 2 Open Studio Topic: Zettel critiques

Linking Your Ideas

The zettelkasten is a note-making and note-linking system, the primary function of which is to help people link ideas and enhance their creative output. This week will be all about those links!

You will learn:

  • How to create strong, inspiring, unforeseen, and, most importantly, useful links between ideas
  • How to follow links to create both long- and short-form written works
  • How to establish links so your future self will never be lost
  • How both folgezettel and structure notes help locate our ideas

⭐️ Week 3 Open Studio Topic: How strong are your links?

Creating Content

Niklas Luhmann developed his zettelkasten for the expressed purpose of helping him write more. In Week 4, we will look at how this dynamic, linked system of ideas can become a “writing machine.”

You will learn:

  • How to outline short works based on your zettels
  • How to structure longer projects using your zettelkasten
  • How to repurpose published (shipped) content for new content

⭐️ Week 4 Open Studio Topic: Final questions and presentations of what you're creating with your zettelkasten

  • LIVE LECTURES: Tuesdays:  June 7, 14, 21, 28 from 11am–1pm EST
  • LIVE OPEN STUDIO: Thursdays:  June 9, 16, 23, 30 from 11am–12pm EST

  • WHERE: Via Zoom. Please note that only Tuesday’s live sessions will be recorded. Thursday’s “Open Studio” sessions are in-person only and will not be recorded.
  • FEE: $480
  • REGISTRATION: Within 48 hours of registering, you will receive a welcome email with more instructions and how to prepare. A week before the class begins, you will recieve the Zoom link.

PLEASE NOTE: This course will be limited to 20 people. Tuesday lecture sessions will be recorded. Thursday “Open Studio” sessions will not be recorded.

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For over twenty years Bob Doto has been teaching and mentoring people on how to live an intentional, inspired life. Starting out in 2001 as a writing tutor at Naropa University, Bob has since taught in settings as diverse as punk warehouses, high schools, living rooms, online Zoom rooms, at the college level, and most recently as a mentor for Tiago Forte’s international online course, “Building a Second Brain.” 

Bob first became aware of workflows and flexible systems for life management after reading Getting Things Done in 2013 when he decided to regrout his bathroom. Since completing that labor-intensive task, he has been exploring ways to utilize the techniques of productivity and PKM to enhance both his writing and spiritual practice.

Bob is also a prolific, published author, publishing his first spiritual punk rock zine at the age of sixteen. He is the author of the book Sitting with Spirits: Exploring the Unseen Margins of the Christianity and writes the weekly newsletter, “The High Pony: ‘Really Good’ Insights on Living an Inspired Life.” In general, Bob spends upwards of fifty hours a week writing. 

Between 2005–2010 Bob was the Managing Editor of internationally acclaimed journal of esoteric studies, Parabola magazine. He was a founding member of renegade yoga blog, The Babarazzi, and between 2011–2015 wrote on the margins of spirituality in NYC on his blog Not New York. Throughout that time, Bob has published dozens of zines, tracts, and booklets under many given and assumed names. 😉  

Bob is the owner and director of the Ditmas Park Yoga Society in Brooklyn, where he teaches and practices Ashtanga yoga and Tui Na bodywork, and is a faculty member at the Pacific College of Health and Science in Manhattan. His books Press Here: Acupressure for Beginners and The Power of Stretching are available from Quarto Press.