Most writers park scribbled scraps of story ideas, details and ideas for a story-in-progress, delightful descriptions (more about this further down), and other minutiae in a pile to deal with later. We might as well throw those scraps away, because they’re almost never used.
Now there’s a better way. Enter Evernote, the perfect place to store this stuff so you can find it and use it again later, even if you don’t recall that it’s there.
After three years, Evernote has become my digital brain annex. I keep all sorts of stuff there: blog post ideas, story ideas, scraps to use in future stories or handouts. I keep lists of contacts there, along with clipped web articles and recipes. I use it to keep notes of events I’m planning, To Do lists, and grocery lists. I used to make Word documents for a lot of these things, but they become hard to find and seem like overkill for very short scraps. Digital Sticky Notes are even worse.
Notebooks and tags make the Evernote difference. Notebooks are the equivalent of folders. You know the value of folders, and how quickly they fill up. Tags are a new advantage. I take the few seconds it takes to add descriptive tags for each new note so I can find it again, within the folder or .
Evernote is a great way to harvest those delightful descriptions I discuss in a guest post on Cate Russell-Cole’s blog excerpted from The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description. That post tells you how to use a Word document for storing succulent snippets.
I still like and use the Word document so I can read the entire collection in one place. Now I copy each entry into a separate Evernote and tag it with author name and elements it illustrates. For example, one entry is tagged for sound, smell, dialogue, emotion, Linda Joy Myers, and Don’t Call Me Mother. I’ve made a Snips folder just for these notes, because these tags overlap with tags on other types of notes. The Evernote advantage here is that Word will sort only on the first word of the column. Evernote finds any tag, regardless of order.
Another example is found in my Thought Scraps folder where I keep random notes related to writing. I’ll soon use one note there to write a review of Dinty Moore’s memoir, The Accidental Buddhist. I added these tags: Dinty Moore, Buddhist, Buddhism, Memoir, Book Review. I may not remember any given one of these, but the variety makes it easy to find right away, for this and other purposes. If I enter Dinty Moore in the search field on the main Evernote window, it will pop right up, even if I’m not in the Thought Scraps notebook.
The feature that sold me on Evernote is its sync-ability. It works on any platform (except Linux) and device and syncs through the Evernote cloud from one device to another. So I can make a note on my laptop and find it on my iPad or desktop computer. If I’m away from my own machines, I can log onto the Evernote Website and find things online.
The very best feature is that it’s free. Each month you get an allotment of xx additional gigs of storage space. If you store lots of photos or music (yes, you can do that too), you can upgrade to a paid account. You can send notes directly from Evernote by email.
What’s not to like about all this? Give it a try. Move in gradually as I did. I predict you’ll soon be addicted as I am.
Write now: Click over to the Evernote site and browse through all the features. Set up an account, install it on your computer, your smart phone, and whatever else you use. Install the web clipper extension in your browser and save this post as a note to try it out and start building your own digital brain annex.
Disclaimer: I wrote this review because I love the product. I am not receiving any incentives or free product to do so.