Managing my writing life with Evernote

I’ve been using Evernote for closed to 2 months now and I have been very impressed with it. I originally started to use it as part of my desire to go paperless at home (I’d already done so, more or less, in the day job). What I have found is that it is not only an effective tool for going paperless, but it helps to manage my writing life. It does this in several ways:

  1. It has replaced Google Docs as my idea file. Google Docs is a great tool, but if I was sitting in a restaurant or walking down the aisle in a grocery store, it was a little inconvenient to pull up on my iPhone. Evernote has an iPhone app that opens quickly and within a few seconds, I can have a the idea uploaded into my writing notebook. If I am pressed for time, I can make it a voice note and simple speak the idea, tag it and upload it. Then, when I want to review my list of ideas, it doesn’t matter where I am, I can pull it up on my iPhone, on the web, or on the application on my MacBook.
  2. Clippings! Clippings! Clippings! I read a lot of science magazines. If I find something interesting in, say, a New Scientist article, I used to cut the article out of the magazine and put it into a folder for later use. Now, I go to the web version of the magazine, clip the article using the Evernote clipping tool for Google Chrome, tag it, and it is stored in the cloud in my writing notebook, with everything else, easily searchable. No paper, and much easier to find and refer to than my old system.
  3. Paperwork. A writer’s life does involve some paperwork. There are contracts and checks, for instance. Now, when I receive these, the first thing I do is scan them in as PDFs and upload them to Evernote as a note. Evernote has OCR technology to make the scanned PDF searchable, so if I search for the phrase, “electronic rights”, contracts that mention these words appear in my result list. And I don’t have to worry about digging through a file folder to find them. Similarly, I use Evernote to capture my writing-related receipts. Come tax time, I have a saved search I use to pull up everything related to writing and taxes. Takes 5 seconds. Can’t wait to use it later this year and impress my accountant.
  4. Blog topics. Just like story ideas, I use Evernote to capture ideas for blog posts (this topic was captured as a note in Evernote some weeks ago). If I am ever at a loss for something to write about, I can pull up my list of blog topics, pick one, write the post, and then delete the note. It has been working beautifully.
  5. Writers group critiques. I read 2-3 stories/week for my writer’s group. Typically these stories are in Word, and I will use the Comments feature to mark up the file and make my specific comments in the manuscript. I then take that manuscript and create a note in Evernote with it. The file itself is an attachment to the note, tagged with the author and the fact that it is a critique. The note is my summary of the story, my actual critique which I give to the author. It keeps a nice record not only of all of the stories I’ve critiqued and for whom I provided the critique, but also what my critique was. And again, it takes up no space in my file cabinet

All of these notes are stored in the cloud and synchronized to my various devices so that I can literally access them anywhere, anytime. I can take my notes from story ideas and science articles, and add them to the research section of a Scrivener document to get started on a story with all of the information I need. If I am reading an old science fiction magazine and want to capture something on the page, I can take a photo in Evernote from my iPhone and the page is captured and the text scanned so that it is searchable.

Evernote has become an invaluable tool to help me manage my writing life. Who else out there is using Evernote to manage their writing life? And what innovative ways are you using it?


  1. I started with Evernote close to eighteen months ago. Initially, it was lists and parts of blogs that I saved for later. I have tried using Springdale, and find it better for books to be read, or recipes. Pocket is another good article saver, but Evernote is truly the best way to keep the idea notes and phrases I pick up so that I have them at hand writing.


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