Evernote – A Writer’s Friend

- by Joe Nassise

Like many writers I know, I’m a pack rat when it comes to information. Anything I see or read or hear that I think might be useful for a story at some point or another gets clipped or bookmarked or jotted down for safekeeping.

The trouble with this is that until recently I didn’t have a useful way of storing this information for future use. My magazine or newspaper clippings went into one big file folder, making it near impossible to find anything quickly. My internet bookmarks were more organized, but there were so many of them that even that system became clunky after only a short time. And I won’t even mention what happened to all those notes jotted down on napkins or the nearest scrap of paper.

Clearly I needed a better system.

And I found one in Evernote.

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote bills itself as allowing you to “easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from anywhere.”

So far it has lived up to its hype.

Evernote is now my way of capturing information that I might want to use at some point in one of my books. Maybe it is a web full page or a snippet of text from one. Maybe it is a photo, be it from my digital camera, my cell phone, or someplace like Flickr. Maybe it is an email or a portion of a chat log. Scanned information. To do lists. You name it and Evernote can capture it.

Evernote has a desktop application (for both Windows and Mac) and a web application. Anything you add to it can be synchronized across all your devices, from your desktop to your laptop to your mobile phone. I have it set up so it provides links from both my email application (Outlook) and my web browser (Firefox) so all I have to do is highlight and click on the link to capture the information I want to save.

Evernote Windows

Once the information is in Evernote, you can file it using a variety of methods and this is where the true versatility of the app comes into play for me. Multiple notebooks allow me to file information for different books projects together in one place regardless of the type of data I’m saving. Or I can choose to file similar data together – all my photos in one notebook, all my web clippings in another, etc. Either way, a robust tagging system lets me search for similar clippings across multiple notebooks.

The Search feature is particularly cool, as it searches not only the text in your notes, but also the text in any pictures you might have saved. I use Bloglines as my news reader and tend to save a lot of articles in their built in Clippings service, but the additional ability to search through images for text provided by Evernote has caused me to begin saving my latest clippings direct to Evernote instead. As time goes on I’ll probably move my older clippings there as well, since I can find things easier that way. There is nothing more annoying that knowing you’ve saved something and not being able to find it!

Evernote Web

 

Evernote came out of private beta recently and can now be used by everyone. Even better, its free. So why not give it a try.

(All images taken from the Evernote homepage and Copyright 2008 Evernote.)

3 comments

  1. Joe, thanks for the great post. Evernote sounds a lot like OneNote, my current true love. If we’re ever going to achieve a paperless office, tools like these are essential.

  2. Thanks for the great tip. I’m an information packrat too, with pretty much the same problem you describe — too much info in too many formats in too many places. Most recently I’ve been using Delicious and Google Notebook for my online clipping and tagging… Evernote sounds like a great addition to the toolbox!

  3. Hi Joe,

    Nice article!
    We’ve also developed a platform pretty similar, but specifically for writers, which means we are going to develop it further in this direction (with features needed by writers).

    When you have time please take a look and let me know what do you think about it.

    Thanks,
    Laurentiu