One of my biggest problem with writing – besides my tendency to be unbearably slow – was that I always had a hard time keeping my notes organized.
In the last 15 years I’ve always kept my ideas, chapters and character profiles in word files, stored inside folders inside folders inside folders. I had the ‘characters‘ folder, the ‘setting‘ folder and then one single word file for each chapter of my story, with progressive numbers on top of the chapter’s name. That’s how I’ve been trying to write at least 3 books (I haven’t given up on any of them).
It’s a fine method, if you’re a lucid, organized person unlike me. I’m always very confused and my mind is always as messy as my desk.
I felt the need to improve my workflow. I’m a graphic designer, my folks know that it’s all about workflow. The smoother the better. No waste of time, no getting upset about softwares and shit. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a better way to sort my notes, that I always had to remember where I put that idea, in which file… what was the title (yes I’m this confused)? And splitting stuff was annoying, I couldn’t embed multimedial material very easily (ever took audio notes?) and, if I may, I don’t like the interfaces of the most common writing programs (this is always my graphic designer self getting annoyed about stuff that wouldn’t annoy anyone else). Ugliness is distracting.
My productivity has always been terrible: I have a hard time writing down more than 2 pages per day, 1 day per week when I feel like a real workaholic. While the solution for my atrocious slowness is simply that I need to force myself to write not more, but more constantly (a bit every day is good for your health, just like apples!), the solution for my organization issue wasn’t as easy.
One day I was looking around the web for some nice tools, because attending the International Journalism Festival for two years has taught me that the internet is full of wonderful, amazing tools that can make your life easier, often for free, often only if your an iPhone user (I’m not. I hate iPhones, but Apple’s laptops are really good. My Macbook, Pandora- after Saturn’s sheperd moon AND the song Pandora’s Aquarium, is very nice).
Among all the things that I found there was Evernote. I already had an Evernote account but, I don’t know why, I had never used it and I had forgotten about the program. Well, I re-discovered it. I downloaded the desktop version of the program, the app on my phone and a new age of excellent organization begun for me.
Evernote is amazing (otherwise I wouldn’t be here doing them this shameless publicity) because it allows you to sort all your notes by notebooks and tags; you can add audio, video content, stuff, anything you want; you can share the notes with other people and you can invite other people to edit your notes right there where you wrote it. And you’re always in cloud.
Once it’s synced, you’ll see the notes you’ve written also through the app on your phone. It’s very easy and practical.
This way I have all I need in just one window, and I can jump from note to note without having to open a few billions wiki/setting/character files. It’s all there, one click or one tag search away.
I warmly recommend it, if you’re a disorganized writer like me. I think it’s also easier to keep yourself constant when you don’t have to open folders and folders before you can begin to work, but just to open one program.
Evernote isn’t specifically designed for writers, but imho this way it remains simple and clean. Visit their website for the more detailed explanations that I’m not able to formulate. They also have an interactive custom Moleskine, which could be a nice thingy for the hipster souls out there 😉 Moleskines in my hands are just wasted.