Sunday 15 April 2012

Writing with Evernote

Ask any writer what they use to write and you'll probably get as many answers as you do writers. Scrivener, yWriter, notebook and pen, napkin and pen, chalkboard, typewriter, Write or Die, Word...there are a dizzying array of programs or implements available to any writer, and it's usually pretty much a case of trial and error to find out what works for you. For example, I often write story outlines by hand in a notebook, and then write out a loose skeleton in Notepad on my laptop, which is fleshed out into a story in Word. I'm also experimenting with Scrivener's trial version for my next project to see if that's any better/different. So far I like it, but that's another post for another time.

But if you asked me how I wrote my most recent Friday Flash, a horror monologue entitled Regular Guy, I'd tell you very simply that I used Evernote. I've mentioned Evernote in passing before, but if you've never used it, it's an app that allows you to record notes etc. in separate notebooks according to their contents. I have it on my phone and my laptop, so if I'm lying in bed and get a story idea, I can type it into a new note in the Fiction notebook I've set up. When I'm next on my laptop, I open Evernote, it syncs with my account, and the story idea note that I saved is accessible from my laptop. I copy and paste the content into Word and away I go.

I use Evernote for all sorts. I've got a notebook containing ideas and half-written blog posts, another for fiction ideas, another for book ideas (that's also where I work through the ideas for works in progress), and I've got another one for things that occur to me related to my PhD (you'd be amazed how often random things pop into my head at the most inopportune moments). I used to type memos into my phone but that entailed copy-pasting the contents and emailing them to myself. Evernote makes it so much easier.

What's more notable is the fact that I wrote the whole of Regular Guy in Evernote at about 2am while I was in bed. I didn't need to get up to switch on my laptop, by which point the idea might have become muddy, or evaporated altogether. I didn't have to fumble around in the dark for a notebook and a pen that actually works. Plus I type a lot faster than I write by hand, even on a smartphone, and it's a lot easier for me to get the idea down, ready to be polished properly next time I'm on the computer.

However you do it, once you find a method that works for you, then great. But how about you? What tools do you use to write?


David Cranmer said...

Good post. I enjoy hearing what other writer use, Icy.

Me: Word on my trusty HP.

Unknown said...

Lots of different things. :) Word, notebook and pen, Evernote, Springpad - I have stuff everywhere. :)

Tony Noland said...

I installed Evernote after reading several raves about it. Used it a couple of times, but didn't see it as game-changing for me.

Tools: I switched from (pen + scraps of paper in my pocket) to (pen + folded paper notebook to (pen + bound notebook). Actually, years ago I always had a little spiral notebook with me, but the latest incarnation is a Moleskine mini. For writing, I use yWriter, and Calibre to convert to formats.

Icy Sedgwick said...

David - A lot of people slag Word off but it has its uses!

Raiscara - Hehe, probably best, spread it around!

Tony - I only stopped using notebooks quite as much (although I do still use them - after all, notebooks don't require a signal or a battery) mainly because I can't always be bothered to type up my notes! I did try yWriter but it did something weird with my laptop so I switched to Scrivener.

Anonymous said...

I use a notebook and pen for ideas, then type things into the Notepad of my laptop, and then transfer to Word. My mobile is way too tiny and fiddly, I'd go mad trying to type a story but this Evernote sounds interesting. Scrivener looked great, and it's something I was considering for my novel rewrite.

snemmy said...

Evernote is really awesome for me since I'm at multiple computers throughout the day. It really helps to type something out quick on my work computer and then flesh it out on the iPad at home.
My main writing tool is Scrivener on my Mac Mini though. I love it! I bought it a two or three years ago and again when I paid the upgrade fee to the new version.
I still love my well worn notebook and pens though. Some things just need the touch of pen to paper to work themselves out. Plus in this digital age, it helps to keep up the handwriting practice!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Alannah - I got the 30 day trial of Scrivener to try it out. Not sure how it'd work for an existing piece but it seems pretty useful for a new project.

Snemmy - It's always nice to keep a pen and paper handy (I do in case my phone dies) but Evernote certainly makes it handy to work across platforms!

lorent said...

I've been wishing had that Word had a side column for notes... thx for this.

Unknown said...

Always intrigued by the variety of tools people use. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking and dictate my stories.

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