The Metaphorical Well

The well is a metaphorical space, buried deep in one’s mind (one could say it’s similar to what Sigmund Freud called the unconscious), where every word ever read or heard, every picture ever seen, every experience and emotion, where all of this, kept chaotically together, mixes and transforms, producing unprecedented shapes. From time to time, the writer can reach into the well and bring something artistically or intellectually unique out into the light of day.-- Maciej Jakubowiak

I like the concept of the metaphorical well so I thought I’d pass it along (I’m also sharing it with my academic dean and English dept. chairs). He convinced me to purchase Highlights, notwithstanding my aversion to subscriptions.

I found the following intriguing so I’m passing it along. You may or may not agree but most of us have tried most of the apps he mentions, and more.

When I get a feeling that the well is full enough (and sometimes you just know), there comes time to organise all of it. I am aware there are a lot of apps that promise to organise notes on their own, or at least to provide their users with sophisticated tools to do it. I know there’s a hype for Obsidian; I am aware there are apps like Craft, Notion etc. I’ve really been there; in my whole career, I have tested a lot of similar apps, like Evernote, Simplenote, and countless others. At some point, I even created complicated workflows in Editorial.

I realise some people may find these tools useful. But here’s my discovery: what you really need is to be intimate with your notes. To take care of them, to visit them once in a while, to explore your observations from the past and feed them to the best app for organising notes and ideas: your own brain.

For everything else, Ulysses has enough tools: keywords, smart folders, quick search also known as command-O (⌘O). If you really need to find something or organise big sets of notes, these tools should be enough.


I’m very much on top of this concept. Initially I thought I should capture all my Obsidian notes into an Inbox folder. But that did not work for me. I prefer to have “Default location for new notes” set to “Same folder as current files”, and I am in different folders of my vault (in which I prefer to stay until I actually want another folder) all day long. Fiddling with folders in the moment interrupts my workflow. And interrupting my workflow just to capture a new thought is not acceptable. So instead, every note I create starts with an #unsorted tag, and never mind what folder it falls in. And every once in a while, I review all my unsorted notes (which is what put me in mind of this ‘reaching into the well’ concept), emend where suitable, and sort them.

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