Removing the toil from my blogging experience

how I write in Notion, own my own content, and do as little manual work as possible

For a while, my writing process was all over the place. I jotted ideas in Notion because it was the home of all my other notes. I edited in google docs since that allowed me to use Grammarly. And I published with MDX because that was hot and trendy. I couldn’t resist 🤷🏼‍♂️.

But writing became a chore because ^ includes a decent amount of copying and pasting, which at the end of the day is toil, repetitive work that doesn’t add value. Nothing makes me procrastinate like toil, so this month I set out to remove some of the toil from my writing process.

To do so I created a script that exports my content from a Notion table and creates the markdown required to host it on my blog. In the process, I realized that I could use Notion in the browser to get the benefits of Grammarly.

Here is what my process looks like now:

My writing process

  • I write quick thoughts in Notion

  • If with time they keep resurfacing

    • I process through said thoughts
  • If I stumble on something novel and worth sharing

    • I create a shareable version of that thought process using a template

    • I then use this script to export in markdown to my blog

    • I review changes in git diff

    • and I commit the newly generated markdown

    • which triggers a webhook driven deploy

Here are the values that this process holds to:

Value 1: It’s easy

I want it to be as close to twitter-level-easy for me to share my thoughts. Removing the manual steps from c/p’ing stuff seems small, but it’s psychologically huge for me.

Value 2: It’s all in one place (Notion)

Notion is where I keep all my personal journaling, notes, and planning. It's important for it to all be in one place for me.

Notion has downsides like mobile UX being painful, but given I am on my phone as little as possible, that is a compromise I am willing to make for the great desktop experience.

Notion has the upside of feature parity in the web and native apps, so I can write in the browser and get the benefits of Grammarly.

Value 3: I own the content

I believe in a democratized internet. Not everything needs to be in social media with likes, comments, infinite scrolling, recommendations, and of course an "algorithm." If you see my stuff it’s because an actual connection shared it with you. Probably me actually, ha! There is no pressure to use gimmicks or manipulation to get you to read. It’s so human. I love that.

You might think that this contradicts values 1 and 2, but having a script that auto imports from notion to a blog post in markdown allows me to have the benefits that Notion provides without being tied to the platform permanently.

Value 4: It’s reducing the tech debt of this blog

This is the final benefit and something that I am new to. Unfortunately, you can’t host your own content and do something custom without some tech debt. I recently started illustrating, which means less time for maintaining this blog, so this value became increasingly important. Not using MDX and sticking to the simplicity of markdown is a step in the right direction for me.

This post only took me 2 hours and 30 minutes

Most of my other ones have taken 6 to 8 hours. That’s exactly the difference I was hoping for in this process. Thanks to notino-to-md for making the conversion easy! Here is the Notion template and the Github Gist of how I did this. The gist includes details in the readme. If you have similar values and want to chat or have any questions my email is open!

I will be writing on here more soon! I have some exciting changes coming up that I look forward to sharing. Merry Christmas in the meantime :)

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