A recent article about writer’s tools and how word processors are too complicated and tough-to-learn got me thinking about the two tools I use and how I make them work for me.
Both are simple at the beginner level. But, I recognize that both can be taken far beyond what i use them for by those “power user” writers.
I’m referring to Evernote and Scrivener as word processors.
I Use Evernote This Way
Evernote is for short form writing. Think
- video scripts,
- magazine articles,
- newspaper columns and
Anything that’s a single “article”, in a “series” or not connected in a massive project gets written and handled in Evernote.
How I Make it Work
Every time I get an idea I write a quick note. Or when I see something I really like, I’ll email the link to Evernote with a tag in the body of the email (see below)
The key is to put them all in one Notebook but “tag” them appropriately. I only have a few Notebooks but I have over a hundred tags to identify such things as ideas (dg-ideas) or rough drafts (dg-working) or published (dg-published) are three tags I use for this blog.
When I get an idea for a post, I briefly describe it, give it a descriptive headline, and title it dg-ideas. I do this regularly. As I write this, I have 50 dg-ideas (give or take) on file. Some will see the light of day but most won’t.
When I want to write a post, I search on dg-ideas and pick from the list. When I flesh it out, the tag gets changed to dg-workig. And then when I upload it here, the tag gets changed to dg-published.
Evernote is Mobile
It doesn’t matter where I am, I can work on Evernote. I can upload pics, take voice notes or sit in a coffee shop with my iPad and expand on the latest article. (This was written in Evernote) Everything syncs and you’re always working on the most recent iteration.
Once I’ve finished the writing several other things happen.
- I do a basic editing
- I read it out loud – this does a very fast job of cleaning it up. If it sounds awkward, it has to be changed.
- Finally, I run it through ProWrite
Upload, click the Publish button and it’s on the way to you.
I Use Scrivener This Way
Scrivener is for long-form writing where you need different scenes or chapters. It’s perfect for this.
The included tools are a writer’s dream and perfect for books of all lengths. I could gush about this software all day as I’ve written multiple large projects on it. I loved the ease of dragging chapters/scenes around as well as practical matters such as in-depth statistics of the project.
But it’s overkill for short form writing. I tried doing my tech column on it for a while but it didn’t work for me. I’m sure somebody writes magazine articles or columns on it but it’s not designed for that.
Scrivener will sync with Index Card – an iPad app – but it’s not intuitive nor is does it leave formatting intact. I “could” do it but after a year of trying, I gave up trying to force fit my iPad into a significant partnership with Scrivener.
Those are the only two word processors a writer needs. And if you’re only starting out with one, then go with Evernote.
What About Word, Pages or Open Office?
Have you ever tried to do a long manuscript on Word? I did. So been there, got frustrated trying to work with an editor shooting stuff back and forth and finding things. Not easy, not intuitive and a royal pain in the anatomy for both of us. We finally broke the ms down into a half-dozen parts for ease of working.
Yes, I know the industry standard is still Word. (I can output to Word from Scrivener if I had to.)
And my tongue-in-cheek response to industry standards is that I no longer give a damn what the standard is when I set my own self-publishing standards.
Mac’s Pages and the Open Source projects fall into the same category. These tools are not ideal for large projects.
What About Using Evernote For Large Projects?
Well, you could by creating an index page. One page to rule them all. Create a list of scenes or chapters by opening a new note for each.
Then each scene or chapter is written and linked back to the Index page.
(To create a link in Evernote, open a note/scene/chapter post. Click – Note>Copy Note Link.
Then go to your Index page, highlight the anchor text and click Format>Link>Add.
A box will pop up and you right click and paste (or command-c) the copied link text into the popup box.
Click OK and your anchor text in the index page now links to the Evernote post.)
So there you have it. One essential word processor is free and the other is inexpensive. What more do you need now?