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Why writers should use Evernote

When I started writing – really writing – I became interested in methods of improving what I produced and how I produced it. One of those methods (and I’m sure it’s not unique advice) was to keep a little book to jot your ideas down in. So, dutifully I went to a bookstore, found a pocket-friendly notebook I liked, bought it and began carrying it around.

The notebook was a thought-catcher. You never know when inspiration might hit and you want to be sure when it does you remember it. Carrying around a notebook was meant to ensure that. Supposedly. However, carrying around a notebook in the digital age is tantamount to carrying around stone tools in the medieval age. The problem with the notebook was that in a time when we live with computers and the internet, it was just so physical. I said earlier I started carrying the notebook around, but it was really only when I remembered to. And even when I did there were other setbacks.

Every time I added to it I had the thought that if I lost the book I would lose all my ideas. Then there was the problem of organization, writing my thoughts down as they came to me meant that when I read them over they were just a jumbled mess with no way of rearranging them. And what would happen if I decided that a thought I wrote down just wasn’t worth pursuing anymore? Scratch it off and plunge my notes into further messy chaos? Not to mention the fragility of a book. It could get wet, the binding could come loose, the strap that bound the pages together actually did snap. Or, I could lose track of where I wrote which ideas down and forget about it completely defeating the point of having the book in the first place. It was all too much of a hassle.

My solution had to be something more digital, and so I turned to Evernote. It’s one of the best tools a writer could have, in my opinion. The program is easy to use with lots of functionality: you can create different notebooks for different topics and tag notes to keep them organised, you can edit notes to your heart’s content after initial ‘jottings’, you can also take audio notes, take pictures for inspiration, capture text from sticky notes, search text from within sticky notes, sketch in notes, clip webpages, set reminders, leave handwritten notes and create checklists. Some of those features I rarely use, if ever, but couldn’t imagine being without when I have.

However, one of the most important features is being able to install an Evernote app on your phone (Android, iOS, Windows Phone or Blackberry) and so take it anywhere. As long as you have your phone you have your notebook. And it’s all stored in the cloud so when you’re ready to switch phones your Evernote account and notes go with you. You can lose your phone but you'll never lose your notes.

There are, of course, alternatives. Google Keep, OneNote and SimpleNote to name a few. But they lack the popularity and ease of use of Evernote. Despite its recent high-profile layoffs, Evernote has moved towards an expanding business model that includes a partnership with Moleskine and the development of other productivity software and products. It perhaps shows good management and innovation, giving you some reassurances that it won’t implode like its former competitor Springpad.

Do you use Evernote to keep track of your ideas, some other bit of software or nothing at all? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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