I don’t usually get gushy over apps, or at least not enough to write about them, however, when they fundamentally change my creative process as a writer, that’s probably significant enough to talk about right?
I’m currently sat slouched on my sofa, in a position not usually conducive to typing, tapping away on my tablet, using the Evernote Android
App – inspiration decided to show itself so I seized it by the lapels, so as not to let it get away. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t judge the creative prowess behind inspiration to write what is effectively an App review, but the idea came when I was reflecting on how I had a wealth of content to draw from thanks to said app – I guess it starts to get a bit “Meta” from there.
The Evernote App
As you may have guessed, Evernote is a glorified notepad, on the surface it doesn’t sound overly exciting, however there are a couple of essential features which let the Evernote app shine above all else. There are two particular uses which I’m about to wax lyrical about; the first, and perhaps most important, is the web clipper. This is an add-on for you browser which acts like a giant pair of scissors to remove the most interesting articles from the internet.
The second is the general note taking and cloud storage aspect to the whole process. This turns my tablet into one of the most über notepads in the world. Not only can a write and file a note on the go, but it’s sat waiting for my on my desktop, phone or any other mobile device when I need it. It doesn’t matter where or what I write the note on, it becomes universally accessible from the moment I finish writing. This functionality is not exclusive to Evernote, Google docs for example offers the same functionality – It just doesn’t offer the same level of elegance and versatility.
It is the clipping application, in conjunction with the note taking and the cloud storage which makes a more compelling package for me. Being able to clip, tag and file the most interesting articles makes it easy to reference when I need them, but the cloud storage makes them more accessible along with my own notes. My mind can get a little fractured at times – because of this ease of writing and storage, Evernote (and my trusty Moleskine journals) have become my workaround for this.*
This might sound a little bit like an RSS or reader to some, maybe it’s similar to simply sending an article to yourself via email to read later. If you’re a prolific feed reader like myself these options can lead to issues further down the line; it doesn’t take long for things to get on top of you and articles to go unread and forgotten. Tagging clippings isn’t exactly rocket science, but really helps to create and organise your own library of content which you can reference and use later on.
Your Memory, When You Need It.
Making sure my ideas are accessible and in the right format means that I’m much more likely to have something to work with when it’s needed. Looking for inspiration is a painful process, Evernote has made this part of writing a thing of the past (for me at least).
Where does all this lead? The most crucial point with me and my writing is the first few moments after inspiration strikes; you write it down and commit it to paper, or you have to trust it to your memory in the hope it’ll re-surface later. I don’t know about you, but I stopped trusting my memory for this a while ago. Writing things down on paper is all well and good, at some point you’ll be faced with digitising or loosing it; either way, it’s time consuming or a fruitless waste of time. The important thing is that this is as close as I’ll ever come to organising the most important notions and creations my mind kicks out, as well as remembering (storing) those noteworthy efforts by others across the web!
Evernote is available for free on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Phone and the Web Clipper plugin can be downloaded for Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari (mobile browser support is limited at the moment).
*Yes I am aware of the Evernote-Moleskine journal, I’m waiting for mine to arrive as I type this!