The biggest question that I have been trying to answer lately is: how can a writer get the most out of their writing? I do my share of traveling and have found that a laptop or notebook as my main source for writing is difficult. Oftentimes, there is a disconnect when I can’t find that latest piece I am working on because it’s either at home, or not in the right notebook. Not to mention that when inspiration comes, but it doesn’t always come when I’m near a medium to capture the idea. On the flip side when I have the opportunity to write an inspiring moment may not be there. So I proposed the question to myself again. Where and with what can I write to keep everything in one place?
Over the past few months I’ve diligently been trying to find a writing tool, or technique, to help alleviate the constant traveling and the hurt it was causing to my writing schedule. Notebooks I don’t always carry on me, my computer is too heavy to lug around, and trying to find a writing medium (i.e., napkins, scraps of paper, etc) when inspiration finally hits causes serious frustration.
Some writers have suggested that I use my smart phone to email myself, but the thought of my email exploding from the shear volume of regular emails plus my writing I would receive scares me. Plus, with the amount of writing I do, it would be hard to keep updated versions when I’m constantly copying and pasting old material to edit. My needs are both simple and difficult to meet. I need a place where I can write, edit, and sync with every possible device that I use. I recently stumbled upon a service known as Evernote.
Evernote is a digital notebook of sorts. It allows the user to capture photos, sounds, hand written notes, keep drawings, typed notes, documents, and web pages. There is even the option to share all of these with others. Most, if not all, of my needs seem to be met when I read over the list of features. As all writers, I will have to see if these features parallel what I’m looking for in order to determine if Evernote will work for me.
On the Go
From my iPhone, iPad, home computer, laptop, work computer, to my mother’s computer; there are literally infinite places where I can update and catch content that I am working on using Evernote. The fact that I didn’t have to install software on my computer, or someone else’s, worked great. Using their online tool I can login, edit my documents, add a small note, and then be on my way. So long to carrying around a Moleskine notebook wherever I went go.
In terms of plain writing there are few options that simply work out of the box. The basic text editor is all I ever really need when writing, since the bulk of my editing takes place at home on Scrivener. The text editor in Evernote is simple and straight-forward. It allows me to bold, italicize, underline, add lists, create checklists, insert tables, change font sizes and color text. Most of these features exist on the iPhone and iPad, but some features are disabled on purpose to avoid causing issues while updating your notes. I find it quite nice when my iPhone will append new text to a note, as the font styling might mess up the note. However, the main feature of being able to sync my notes on my computer then start typing away on my iPhone as I walk out the door is simply amazing. My notes are available in the latest iteration.
When I started using Evernote for my personal writing, I also started using it for business. Both words are completely distinct from each other, so with Evernote, creating separate folders helped keep the worlds apart. At work we do SCRUM, and AGILE daily stand-ups to track project progress, and to make sure issues/problems are being communicated to key stakeholders on a project. Previously, I used a plain notebook to track my daily tasks, but if I forgot to take it to a meeting then I would be lost. With Evernote, I can pull out my iPhone and see the latest updated notes about a project and communicate the information to my managers. With shared notebooks I can also collaborate with other team members and know where they are at with their projects. If I have downtime I can help them complete tasks they might have. It might be a headache to track both business and personal writing in the same place, but with Evernote it is quite seamless. I can collapse sections that I don’t need while keeping focused on the tasks that I do need at a particular time. Two worlds collided, but didn’t destroy each other.
Signing up for an Evernote account is easy, and quick. It comes in two flavors free and premium. If you’re interested in trying out the service then I’d say sign-up and give Evernote a walk around the block. The free service has a few limitations, but nothing that would hinder the lone writer from trotting along.