The Daily Scott Scheper

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No. 184

A Book Which Advocated Digital Notes Led Me to Analog

Audio podcast version


If you are a writer, or copywriter, the number one question you need to ask yourself is this:

How do I consistently produce genius-level work WITHOUT getting burnt out——or worse——getting fricken' bored?!

The answer is challenging growth.

You won't find that in The Lazy Man's Guide to Getting Rich, and you won't find riches, either.

I'm fascinated with things that stretch me to learn the right way——the only way——the hard way.

If this intrigues you, then what you're reading is the best thing you could be doing with your time... if you have a Family Guy sense of humor, that is.

If that's you, then I like you! If not, then bye Felicia.

If you're still here, my name is Scott Scheper.

This website is where I share writings of projects and fascinations I'm in the midst of working on.

Join me in the quest for challenging growth, and in the spirit of Stewie Griffin... world domination!

Thus begins No. 184...

One American Plaza
Downtown San Diego, CA

Thursday, 4:45 pm

Dear Friend,

There I was, fearful that I would once again overcomplicate my life. I thought I would destroy my productive writing streak because I was burnt out. I was worried about taking proper reading notes, and by "proper," I meant "atomic." I became just a customization junkie for a piece of software called Obsidian[1].

Mind you, this was after I took a course on digital note-taking. It focused on helping writers and knowledge workers.[2] It cost me $1,322.00, and I learned much, but something just seemed off. It seemed as if I was on a track to doing more and getting less done.

But I held out hope. For, as I wrote in yesterday's issue, a new book had just arrived in my mail. It is a book written by a man named Sönke Ahrens. The title is, How to Take Smart Notes. Its subtitle is, "One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers."

I like to refer to this book by Sönke Ahrens by a different title, however. I refer to it as The Ahrensian Note-taking Bible.

One thing must be made clear, at this point:

I Had Zero Intention of Switching from Digital Note-Taking to Analog at That Time.

When I began reading The Ahrensian Note-taking Bible, my plan was to build out the note-taking method he was teaching in an analog form first. After this step, I would adopt the principles into my digital note-taking software.

I remember the realization I had shortly after trying out the analog method. It was not much different than what I had already been taught in the 6-week course. However, there were some very critical subtleties. These are things one completely overlooks unless you do one thing. And that is this:

That you try to implement the analog method. But correctly and honestly!

Shortly after doing so, I remember the thought of, "Ohhhh, so this is what it's truly supposed to be."

At this moment, I thought I was learning something known as Zettelkasten. Later I found out I was learning a different version of it. It was months later I discovered just how different the Ahrensian interpretation of Zettelkasten is compared with what the creator of the method really did. I'll touch on that in the future.

When reflecting on my first encounter with The Ahrensian Note Bible, I primarily remember one thing: the unsettling feeling of knowing the analog version was the magical component.

I recall this realization happening very quick--meaning, say, a week into reading the book. Looking at my writings of this period now, I realize it was even quicker than a week.

From reading my writings of this time, I also learned that I knew analog was better... not by a little... but by a lot. Granted, it needed to be better by a lot! Why? Because I had spent months of work and my time committed to the digital version. Still, I couldn't just delude myself!

It was tough to admit because I had spent the better part of the year learning Obsidian. In doing so, I built a sizeable repository of digital notes.

Two days after my foray into The Ahrensian Bible, I wrote down the following thought:

"I [can't] help but feel like it may be best to move towards analog completely."

Yet... I also wrote something in addition to this.

I wrote about the one thing holding me back from switching from digital to analog.

It's pretty stupid and embarrassing...

It takes balls and courage to admit...

But writing completely depletes my courage. And I'm pretty damn depleted right now...

The good news is my courage replenishes, kinda like other bodily fluids that replenish. (Your mind went there, not mine). But I'll need some time, babe. Don't worry, it's not you, it's me.

This is why I'll tell you what the one thing holding me back from switching from digital to analog...


'til then,

Always remember...

To stay crispy, my friend.

Thursday, 6:58 pm


  1. Obsidian Website. Note: I hold this to be the very best digital knowledge creation tool out there, but not for notes. Why? Because there is not one digital piece of software that is adequate for notes. You'll learn why later. That said, I do hold Obsidian to be a phenomenal tool for publishing content. For writing. For producing and thinking and publishing long pieces, such as, well, this daily piece! ↩︎

  2. See: No. 181 ↩︎


Scott P. Scheper