How to use Notion AI for writing
A practical guide to enhancing your writing with Notion AI
For weeks I’ve been writing about creativity. How important it is and why we need it.
But part of my mission as I build in public is to explore how to use AI, not to replace human creativity, but to enhance it.
So today I bring you something different, a step by step guide on how I personally use Notion and their AI to build the system I use to:
Save and manage my bookmarks.
Build a knowledge database around my topics of interests.
Brainstorm ideas and write without distractions.
So without further a do, let’s get down to business.
Curation with intention
I’m very against digital hoarding or compulsively saving every piece of potentially interesting content we come across.
I get it. We fear missing out but the reality is that it becomes overwhelming and it kills our creativity. So I’m always repeating the mantra curate to create.
The vertebral spine of my Notion system is the bookmarks and topics databases.
It’s how I manage to navigate content overwhelm with ease so I can focus on nurturing and exercising my creativity. They help me curate with intention.
I’ve built a habit of being very intentional about my topics of interest, which I see as the knowledge dimensions I explore at any given moment.
What stays on my top of mind.
We can’t focus on a deep level on learning too many topics at once, so I purposely try not to have more than 5 topics active at the same time.
That’s why I set a status to my topics, and as my interests evolve or I change the focus of my work I change the it to either inactive or archived, depending on whether it’s a pause situation or I’m ready to move past it.
With topics defined, I get to navigating the internet waters.
Most of the time, when I find something online I don’t have the time to read it on the spot. So first I ask myself one question: does this content contribute to any of my topics? If so, I save it assigned to it. If not, I usually move past it.
Now, curiosity is fantastic, but it can also be distracting. I sometimes save bookmarks without a specified topic. But I try to be very critical and only do so if something sparks genuine interest.
To make capturing as easy as possible I have 2 options to be ready on the go, when the opportunity arises:
On desktop I use a chrome extension called Save to Notion that allows me to save any content I come across in a 2 clicks and assign it to its corresponding topic.Loading video
On mobile I just share it through the notion app directly into the database. This is less convenient because it doesn’t allow topic selection when you save it. But it can be done with just 3 extra taps.Loading video
This motion saves any piece of content to my bookmarks management where they go through a pipeline.
Building and anti-hoarding habit
The bookmark pipeline is simple and straight forward. There are 4 stages: new, in progress, completed, or archived.
The most important part of this process is to develop a conscious practice of digital minimalism and stay on top of your saved bookmarks.
If I save something I either read it within a week or I archive it.
Information that is meant to reach you will find its way back to you. But if you keep hoarding bookmarks you end up with an ever-growing graveyard of links that builds up your anxiety over time and contributes to decision fatigue.
So I constantly remind myself to be intentional with what I save, then consume or let go.
Even being as intentional as possible, the reality is I rarely find these content pieces at an appropriate time to read them, so I save them based only on their title. That often leads to saving content that may seem interesting and insightful but ends up lacking any real value.
So here’s the first step in which I use Notion AI. I setup a dedicated property that extracts the 3 most relevant takeaways from the content so I don’t have to read a full piece to know if it’s worth my time or not.
This takeaways property is specially important because it is automatically inherited by both topics and the writing pages I relate to bookmarks so it further allows AI leverage into the next phase.
As I go through my bookmarks I start getting ideas and a piece of content will start brewing in my mind. So I’ll start connecting different bookmarks related to that idea.
I don’t usually go with the first idea that comes to mind, so I’ll use Notion AI to brainstorm new ideas or ask it to prompt me with questions related to the takeaways inherited from the bookmarks.
These results serve as a good counter point to my own ideas and many times spark new angles I might have not considered before, allowing me to go deeper into the topic.
Drafting and editing with AI assistance
Once I’ve decided on a topic I get to writing.
I have never really used any AI output straight out of the system. It is still far from really sounding like my own writing, and there’s a quality to using your own voice that can’t be replaced.
However, thanks to Notion AI, I don’t have to leave my writing page for anything. I use the integrated AI to
suggest an article outline
find synonyms or antonyms
explore metaphors and analogies
expand or shorten statements
explore different writing tones
proofread and fix grammatical mistakes
It’s basically like having an editor at hand in an instant. And it really cuts drafting and editing times to focus on the important juicy writing.
AI is just a tool
With all that said. AI remains a tool. It greatly increases efficiency but it hardly compares to human quality writing.
When it comes to having a genuine voice with personality, AI is not yet there. Maybe it will never be.
I see it only a way to remove ourselves from the more tedious bits of creative work so that we can focus on what we do best.
Willing to give AI a chance?