Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Writing research and notes can be overwhelming. Especially if, like mine, they're scattered over multiple apps and programs. When I write my novels, I need to store a lot of different kinds of information. I needed a service that could deal with web clips, audio files, visual media, and more. A tall order, for sure.
Up until a few months ago, I was using Scrivener. Built for authors, it has corkboards, folders, and all the bells and whistles such as the ability to write, within the app itself, your entire manuscript. I loved the idea and used it to write my last two books.
However, if you do a lot of work on your phone, as I often do, then a desktop-based app is only offering half the usability you need. I also didn't need the in-app writing capability that seemed to be the bulk of the Scrivener draw. I didn't need it. I write in Word as I have since my first book and I submit my manuscript in that form. So I didn't need the build your own book feature.
I decided to give Evernote a try. I've been a user since 2010 but only casually. I used it to clip online articles and store business cards from conferences. I didn't fully appreciate everything the free version had to offer until I looked at it a second time. Though I'm a fan of the web clipper, which makes gathering online sources a breeze, I found so much more.
Though it is primarily a note-keeping app, it is incredibly powerful. I have plotted outlines on a single note worked out plot blocks, and created a style sheet to keep details from my novel straight. The notes are in notebooks that you can stack together. For instance, I have my research and editing notes for The Stolen Stars in different notebooks, but they are grouped together in the same stack for easy switching. You can add clickable links, photos, videos, and audio to each note as well. The tags are key to keeping organized. When you clip something online, Evernote gives you the ability to both tag and choose a notebook destination all in one pop-up. Easy-peasy!
Notes include an optional reminder feature, which a great for scheduling social media. I have a chart with my content pillars and the days of the week I post. And I get alerts on my phone when I have to get to work on those graphics for the coming week. Super helpful when in the throes of writing.
The notebooks store everything and you have several different view options. From cards like a Google stream, a list view, to a horizontal split-screen. I have audio files I've recorded in the middle of the night when an idea or plot hole hits me right next to saved articles and video files. You can add shapes to documents which help with plotting and workflow. I've made plot blocks that are just as effective as Scrivener's index cards and move just as easily.
The mobile and laptop versions both offer a Scratchpad feature which is what I've used the most. Based on the home page of the program, it is easy to see and use. Essentially a sticky note, you can jot down ideas, tasks, and the like. It has the option to convert your scribbles into a note which is awesome. Its become my favorite go-to feature.
A final perk you may not know about is that you can have multiple devices on one account (2 for the free version and even more for Premium). I have the free version right now and find between my laptop and my phone it is plenty. It makes working on the fly so much easier when you can create, update, and edit your work on both your phone AND your laptop with no lag or issues. The free version also has a 'shared with me' option that makes collaborative work a breeze.
If you're looking for a program that morphs into what you need when you need it, I recommend Evernote. There are few how-to videos on Youtube like this one. However, I encourage you to check it out yourself. Its free and offers some incredibly helpful features. Do you have any suggestions for organizing your writing process? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll check them out.
Never miss a new release, sale, or exciting update. Sign up here for my once-a-month newsletter: Electric Dreams Newsletter
I share news on tech innovations and how they affect us, publishing industry news, updates on my near-future thriller books, and recipes from my characters.