Writing a book is a practice of managing confusion.

It may seem that it would only be about the nuts and bolts. For example, a common path I’ve been using lately is to:

  • Drag ideas from their storehouse in DEVONthink to Scrivener
  • Use Scrivener’s corkboard to find themes while arranging the notes
  • Begin writing sections as they seem to have suggested themselves, using the notes as both content and inspiration
  • Rearrange and repeat as needed

But the practice of developing vision is more important than any tool or method.

That word “vision” may leave you with little impression, an unsettled sense, or irritation. Questions like the following may appear:


“What is vision? Do I have it?” 


The word “vision” seems to imply:

  1. You should be able to “see something” and 
  2. Whatever you see should be clearly defined. 


However, both of these are incorrect. A vision may not be visual, and it is more than likely not clear.

The word “vision” is itself highly problematic. Vision is only a metaphor, a stand in for the word “sense”. More specifically, it is about practicing a sense of direction.

To practice, we need only begin with the realization that any creative work is, by definition, without a clear vision. Were it clear, it wouldn’t be creative.

Since lack of clarity is a given, we can now practice paying attention to a sense of direction as to where the book is heading. Then take at least one step in that direction.

I don’t have all the answers. I discover much of what I write as I build and edit. While structuring outlines using the above process helps me begin, I’ve broken them without exception. 

Maybe I’ll use one tool.  Maybe I’ll use another. They can include ia Writer, Omnifocus, MindNode, and more. They are all just stations I use to prop me up as I hopefully make progress on whatever project I’ve recently lashed myself to.

For a detailed description of developing vision and building creative work, consider Workflow Mastery: Building from the Basics.

For a detailed description of how to take notes and build ideas using DEVONthink, consider Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink.