For years I have had a love – hate relationship with Evernote. At first it was hard to understand how or why you should use it and for what. Over the years, Evernote has become my go to tool for storing notes and research.
These days it’s the tool I use to research and write blog posts. It keeps everything together in a single notebook for each blog post I write.
Here’s the workflow I use…
Use a notebook for each post
Each time I have an idea for a blog post, I add it to a separate notebook. This notebook contains a running list of my blog post ideas. When I’m ready to research the idea, I’ll create a new notebook, with the title being the idea I want to write about.
Use a stack for all the post notebooks
Once I have two notebooks created, I created a stack of the notebooks so all of the posts are in the same organizational structure.
To create a stack on the Mac and Windows desktop, simply drag a notebook on to another notebook. A new notebook stack containing both notebooks will be created. Right click and rename the stack to whatever you want. This stack I named “.Posts in Progress”. Notice the period in front of “Posts”. This causes Evernote to sort these stacks to the top of the list, above any single notebooks you might have.
If you need to delete a stack for some reason, right-click (or control-click) the stack you want to remove. A pop-up menu appears, click “Delete” and another pop-up will verify your decision. This ONLY removes the stack itself, not the notebooks or any content in them.
If you need instructions on creating or deleting stacks on your other devices, like a tablet or smartphone, check out this page…
Create Notes and Capture Research Into Your Notebooks
Once I have my idea setup in a notebook, I start my research. I’ll Google the idea and see what shows up, visiting websites and capturing notes with Evernote’s Web Clipper.
The Web Clipper is a fantastic tool for this purpose and a breeze to use. Its an extension to your favorite browser and sits waiting to go to work.
Once you have the page you want to capture, click the elephant icon in the browser toolbar. The Web Clipper opens a menu where you are presented with several options, of which it already selected what it thinks you want to do…(Don’t you hate when computers do that? Kind of creepy, huh?)…
You can capture the entire page or a simplified version of the article, without adverts or comments. If you selected text, you can capture just that text in to a notebook.
You can also add tags and change the note name if you want.
Great tool…don’t leave home without it!
Create An Outline
Once I’m satisfied with my research, I begin the outline in a new note.
Evernote is great at outlining your posts using the “Numbered List” feature. Click the button on the toolbar and start typing…
* each time you hit “Enter” a new numbered line starts with the next number
* hitting the “Tab” key, indents the line and starts a new line for your supporting ideas
* once the supporting ideas are written, hit “Enter” and return to the main ideas list
* to get out of the numbered list mode, hit “Enter” a couple of times
The only real hassle in creating the outline this way, is the bouncing back and forth between the outline and the research notes. A real pain I didn’t want to have to deal with when it came time to write the first draft. So…
Writing The First Draft
Once I’m somewhat satisfied with the outline…(like that could ever happen in my mind)…
I’ll create a new note titled, Draft.
Then it’s back to the outline note to copy and paste the outline into the Draft note.
BUT SLOW DOWN THERE!….here’s a little free tip that will save you a bit of time and frustration…(because I like helping)…
Before you paste the outline into the Draft note, hit “Enter” 4 or 5 times to move the cursor down the note a bit. This frees up space at the top of the page where your draft will be written. If you don’t and hit Enter after pasting in the outline, you’ll be in Numbered-Lists mode and you’ll have a heck of a time getting out of it without messing up the formatting of your outline right below…. (you are welcome)…
Now, select the entire outline and change the font color to something other then black. I’m a bit color blind in the red-green spectrum, so blue is a good contrast for me. Pick whatever color that works for you, as this keeps the draft and outline visually separated. Believe me, it helps…(you are welcome)…
Start writing. Once I am satisfied with a paragraph or section…(again, satisfied, in my mind?)…I’ll delete the corresponding lines of the outline. Once the outline is gone, the draft is finished.
Also, if I know I’ll want an image or a screenshot in the post, I usually put in a placeholder in big bold letters that stands out. Something like,
XX IMAGE OR SCREENSHOT XX
Then it’s just a matter of rereading, proofreading it, add any images or screenshots and publishing it to the blog.
I’ve tried different methods and routines to write productively and efficiently over time. This workflow has served me well as it allows me to store my ideas, capture the research, create the outline and write the draft, all in one place. Plus, Evernote is free…(I like free)…and available on all my devices. Then if I get a post idea, I can open up Evernote on a device and capture the idea before it’s gone…(short term memory loss sucks)…Plus, this workflow allows me to work on several posts simultaneously.
How do you write. Share your workflows in the comments below…