How I Use Evernote as an Editor and Writer

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Though I probably first downloaded Evernote two or three years ago, it only recently became a part of my actual workflow. I would have used it a ton in my former job editing and writing for St. Louis Magazine, but my Mac there didn’t have the OS needed to run the desktop client. And Evernote’s web client wasn’t an option for daily use, mainly because the UI just isn’t my thing. (I’m certainly happy the web client exists for automatic backups and syncing; I don’t think either is available with Yojimbo.)

Since returning to freelance work the past few months, I’ve started using Evernote less as a notebook and more as a binder for projects: a holding bin for the key emails, research documents, interview questions, transcripts, and images related to each project. For example, here’s my Evernote app with a view of the ‘Notebook’ for a profile I’m writing for a magazine on the West coast:

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I’ve found it a great help to be working within a single app like this, with the actual composition happening elsewhere (in Pages, most often). As I compose, I can consult a single binder of material, rather than dipping back into Mail, then to a folder on my Mac for a document, then to the Web for a published article. Everything’s in one spot. Once I turn in an article or communications piece to a client, I move all the individual notes in the Notebook to an Archive folder, then delete the Notebook itself.

Here’s one more example of how I’m using the program for a book I’m working on. More details on the actual book later, but the brief story is that I need to provide a photographer with summaries of each chapter. I considered just writing him individual emails, one for each chapter; I also considered writing the summaries in a comp program of some kind (probably Pages or Notational Velocity), then emailing him the individual files (as text documents or PDFs). I decided to actually compose the summaries in Evernote, then use its Email function, which sends him the text without me having to move over to an email program. Within the pop-up email window, you can choose to cc yourself (which I always do, so it’s archived there as well) and write a sentence or two introducing the note itself. Two additional benefits: One, a month down the line, I could update a summary with some new information and just quickly re-email it to the photographer; and two, it’s helpful to have these summaries stay within my single project view — I can move quickly between them — rather than as individual documents or emails in some folder somewhere. Here’s a look at the Notebook for just the Images part of this book project:

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So that’s a quick look at how I use Evernote on a daily basis. While I’ve had less luck using it in other ways (I’ve hardly ever gone back to reread or consult random articles I’ve thrown in there, for example), this system has worked well for me the last few months. We’ll see how the process evolves in the coming months.