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I have a to do list that I manage in vim. I want to keep track of things I remove from the list.

After I type dd to delete a line, I want to write this line to a different file.

I only want this behavior when I am in my todo list, not other files. Any suggestions on how to do this?

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Well.

You probably should map dd to

  1. append current line to some file
  2. do normal dd aftewards
nnoremap dd :.write! >> ~/different_file<CR>dd

write command can append a range to a specified file if >> is supplied. Here . is the range of "current line".

To make it only available for a specified buffer you should create a mapping with <buffer> argument (:h :map-local):

nnoremap <buffer> dd :.write! >> ~/different_file<CR>dd

To properly apply this mapping to a specific buffer you will have to use autocommand:

augroup TODO | au!
    au BufRead,BufNew todo.txt nnoremap <buffer> dd :.write! >> ~/different_file<CR>dd
augroup END

Here you create an autogroup, clear it (needed in case you re-source your vimrc) and add autocommand for 2 events: BufRead and BufNew for a buffer named todo.txt.

Now if you open or create a buffer named todo.txt buffer local mapping would be added only available in this buffer.

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