Lately I’ve really been wanting software that allows me to easily organize all my notes, research, photos for characters, emails, etc for the manuscripts I’m working on. I use MS Word to write my novels (since I have to deliver it through MS Word–it’s industry standard), but it’s cumbersome and non-intuitive to add all the extra information that comes up while you’re writing or editing a draft.
I was putting links to research articles, character names and meanings, photos that felt like they fit my characters, all at the bottom of my manuscript, but it was a pain to sort through. And then I had a separate file for notes on what I wanted to add or change or do a separate edit for in the novel, and character names, descriptions, etc for all the characters of all my books…and it just got to be hard to sort through all the material. I also have so many bookmarks of great articles and information that I don’t want to lose–but that become hard to find. I was using OneNote for a while (which comes with MS Office), but it didn’t feel intuitive or easy to use, somehow.
And then I remembered a program I’d tried years ago. It hadn’t quite worked for me then, but it’s gotten so much better–in fact, I think it may be my dream software.
What is it? You guessed it–Evernote. And it’s free. It’s also easy to use, does all the things I want it to do, and things I hadn’t even thought of yet that are super appealing. There’s also a handy web clipper tool that you can add to most browsers. I easily installed it for Chrome and it works perfectly.
A few things I love about Evernote. You can:
- use it on all your various computers and phones, including Windows, Mac, and Android, and through their website
- sync everything in Evernote through all your devices and access it on any of them. So once you’ve entered something from one place, it’s automatically updated on all your devices, including online. That means you can use it at home, on the go, at a friend’s house–basically anywhere that has internet access (or, if you don’t have internet access but still have your tablet/laptop, there, too.)
- easily and quickly clip any article online
- create separate notebooks to easily organize all your various projects or topics (this works very well for the way my brain works)
- forward or send emails to Evernote, even to specific notebooks
- drag and drop photos, video, even music
- easily search and find articles, research, etc that you want–even *text within a document* (which is crucial to me; sometimes I forget what I titled a document and where I stored it)
- tag any note with tags that make sense to you
- have everything all in one place AND see everything easily. I love that all the different forms of media can all be accessed in one program (and within specific notebooks), with a file-like list on the left, the articles and notes down the middle, and new notes on the right. SO easy to see and find everything I want!
- attach paper notes (just take a photo and send it to Evernote) and audio notes
The ways I’m using it so far as a writer (and I’m only on my second day):
I just discovered that there’s a free online tool Clippings Converter, that you can use to upload your Kindle “my clippings” right into Evernote. What an incredible bonus! I have so many notes that I take and passages I’ve highlighted while reading a good book. I’m definitely going to use this feature.
There’s also a premium version (that you pay for) if you want more features and more upload storage capacity.
I feel like I’m only just starting to see what’s possible with Evernote–and I’m loving it all.
Do you use Evernote? How do you use it as a writer?
If you don’t use Evernote, what’s your favorite comparable program?