Implementing a spaced repetition writing system

Spaced repetition is usually used as a memorization technique, a form of processing inputs.

It is also interesting to look at how spaced repetition can be applied to other cognitive activities, particularly activities that produce an output. An example is writing.

There are two ideas that I want to bring together: spaced repetition and incremental writing. Spaced repetition serves as a workflow for incremental writing so exciting ideas are worked on frequently and the rest are brought up once in a while. This way, we can maximize output using the minimum required effort.


  1. Make writing a daily activity, helping to cultivate a garden of knowledge without necessarily aiming at producing long format texts.

  2. Take advantage of the randomness in spaced repetition foment a serendipitous environment where ideas can collide with each other.

  3. Establish a process that puts focus on writing without having to worry about running out of material or losing interesting topics.

  4. Reading and reviewing feels like learning but it is not. Writing forces us to process what we read.

Main Idea

I have been using Roam's Daily Notes as my idea inbox, which later evolved into an incremental writing system. To integrate spaced repetition into this system, I use an adaptation of the Leitner System in my personal Roam. Each tag has a group of writing ideas that are reviewed and worked on at different frequency. Productive ideas are worked on more frequently, while unproductive ones are seen less frequently.


  1. Create a spaced repetition writing page in Roam.

  2. Write 6 tags and initialize them with a review date

    • SRW1: July 27th, 2020 (Every day)

    • SRW2: July 30th, 2020 (Every Monday and Thursday)

    • SRW3: August 3rd, 2020 (Every Monday)

    • SRW4: August 10th, 2020 (Review every 2nd Monday)

    • SRW5: August 24th, 2020 (Review every 4th Monday)

    • SRWS: (Suspended writing ideas, review at will)

Choose the days and frequencies and days that work best for you. I chose multiples of 7 for SRW3-5 so that reviewing them happened during the same day so inactive ideas could appear together and encourage myself to mix them. I am still testing this system, so if it proves overwhelming, I will spread out the boxes.

Review and Write

  1. Tag new writing ideas with SRW1.

  2. To review, go to Daily Notes or today's page. Any tag that should be worked on is linked as reference below today's page.

    • If a writing idea is productive or interesting, bump it to a higher frequency tag, if it's not in SRW1 already.

    • If a writing idea is not productive or it needs some inspiration, bump it to a lower frequency tag.

  3. After working on the writing ideas of the day, go to the spaced repetition writing page and update the review day with its appropriate frequency.


During a review session, it's not possible to mark a writing idea as "done" and see it until the next session, so you'll have to trust your memory to avoid going over the same idea twice.


Use Roam Toolkit to increment dates using keyboard shortcuts.