Zettelkasten VS Atomic Essays? More like Zettelkasten AND Atomic Essays!

Let’s compare!

Atomic Essays: Rapid publishing to learn writing

Atomic essays[1] are a publishing and data gathering technique focussing on:

Stated goals are: “To think clearly, publish with prolific momentum, eliminate the friction of sharing ideas online, and create your niche by gathering data”[1:1]

Zettelkasten: Idea collection and connection

The Zettelkasten[2] method is a knowledge and idea organizing system that focuses on atomic ideas and creating connections between ideas. The ideas are atomic to make any connections between them unambiguous. The ideas are personal. It is described as a “holistic method on how to deal with knowledge in your life.”[3]

Stated impacts are: “have an easier time doing knowledge work,” “produce gems of knowledge”[3:1]

Lots of overlap we can use to our advantage

Notice how much overlap there is between the two techniques. It actually is easier to list the differences:

In Zettelkasten we explicitly connect atomic ideas with links. Atomic Essays don’t emphasize linking. With Atomic Essays we write in public. Zettelkastens are private (seem to get published posthumously)

What would happen if we developed our Zettelkasten as a series of Atomic Essays in public?


  1. https://www.ship30for30.com/post/how-to-write-an-atomic-essay-a-beginners-guide ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. https://stephanhagemann.com/posts/2021-10-31-macos-productivity-joplin-zettelkasten/ ↩︎

  3. https://zettelkasten.de/introduction/ ↩︎ ↩︎

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2 Replies

Paul 🚢 Paul 🚢

I’ve been doing exactly this for ship30! Each atomic essay becomes a Zettel-like note in Obsidian. It’s worked super well, and forced me to work through ideas that I hadn’t really fleshed out before the course. The best part is that it created loads of other essay ideas 😄 source

Stephan Hagemann Stephan Hagemann

I agree! Incidentally - This makes me settle on tomorrow’s topic! My biggest criticism of #ship30for30 source

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