Evernote: A Great Free Tool For Writers

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):

  • dragged and dropped photos that represent my characters into a notebook for my current WIP

  • created notebooks not only for my WIP, but also on writing technique, book promotion, and tips on using Evernote itself, and already clipped articles on the subjects that I think are great and that I don’t want to lose

  • emailed myself an email about writing techinque that I want to remember, to a separate notebook

  • synced all my accounts so that the information appears on my laptop, desktop, tablet, and phone, and I can easily access it all

  • wrote ideas about my WIP while I was on the subway, and sent them to Evernote, to my WIP notebook, so I didn’t lose them

  • moved notes from one notebook to another

    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?

  • About Cheryl Rainfield

    I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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    6 Responses to Evernote: A Great Free Tool For Writers

    1. I’m a newcomer to Evernote, too.
      I’m using it to store all the great writing advice I find in the blogs I subscribe to. I like the tags feature, too, because it makes it simple to organize and search my virtual reference library.

      Thanks to you, I’ve now got lots of new ideas for using this cool tool. 🙂

    2. I haven’t tried this, but after reading your post I just might have to. I mean it’s free and it has some excellent features. What I like is the drag and drop feature for photos and the use of tags. Thanks, Cheryl

    3. Heather, that’s what I’m doing, too–saving writing technique articles to refer back to. I love it! And the tags feature IS neat. Evernote wasn’t this cool years ago; I think it is AMAZING now. The sync feature, too, really makes it! So glad you’ve got new ideas on how to use it!

    4. Cheryl/Lee–so glad you’re going to check out Evernote! I’ve really, really been enjoying it, finding it so useful with my writing. And yeah–being able to drag and drop photos means you can keep practically everything you need for a manuscript in one place. I love it! and the tags. 🙂

    5. I do use Evernote, and you reminded me that I need to download it for my computer. I am trying out Simplenote, too. I can’t decide right now which one I like best.

    6. Glad you’re going to download it on your computer, Michele. I’m now using it every single day. I hadn’t heard of Simplenote–I’ll check it out. 🙂

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