I’m typically not a super-organized writer when it comes to my desk. The Post-it notes and scraps of paper with ideas jotted on them, the three ring notebooks and composition books have finally gotten out-of-hand, and I think I have discovered the digital solution to my “filing cabinet of ideas” needs. Evernote has been fun to explore. It is a free application that syncs across platforms: iPad, iPhone, Mac. I can make notes, take pictures, include web content from my internet research sessions, and access all of these notes from anywhere.
If you like to write on paper, for example in a Moleskin notebook, you can do that and take pictures of the pages to use later.
So far I have used Evernote to keep track of steps for long-term projects, such as promoting a new chapbook. (I don’t tend to use daily calendars much as I don’t need to be specific places at specific times. I just need to follow the steps to these larger goals.) I have weekly to-do lists with check boxes to mark off, and when I complete a list, I can either delete the file or leave it as an archive. I’ve created lists for Books to Be Read, Books Read, and New Poem Ideas. All of these are long-term, yearly lists. The system is working so far as I always know to go to these lists rather than search the desk for the latest scrap of paper.
There is an option to upgrade to a paid Premium Evernote service that offers even more tools, but I have not bought that level of service just yet. I also don’t put personal information on the site.
Author David Brown used Evernote to keep track of his research for a nonfiction book. You can read more about his process on the Evernote blog here.
If you have used other digital systems that work well for you, please share in the comments. I have a huge weakness for paper and paper products, but I’m willing to change habits when the new system works and solves a problem.
The Evernote website is here.