Before talking about Scrivener versus Evernote (more on that app further down) I should set the scene. A) I’m an app whore – if it has the word ‘productivity’ in it, I’ll try it. B) I have zero loyalty to any particular ecosystem. I own a PC, a Samsung Galaxy 4 (Android), and an iPad Air 2 (IOS). If something is going to rock my world, it had better work on all three of those platforms.
Anyway – this will be of no surprise to any writers reading this – I own a copy of Scrivener for PC. I was hoping the IOS version would be done by now because that’s one of the things that attracted me to the application in the first place. I figured once the iPad/iPhone version was released I could happily sync between Scrivener for PC and Scrivener on my Air 2. Then I’d be able to write when commuting or away on vacation. For those that keep up with the Scrivener blog you’ll know that the dream of synchronization between those two operating systems seems to be on permanent hold. But still, Scrivener is an impressive beast. It’s fantastic for planning. Character sheets adjusted to how I like them – check! Notes on the worlds and environments my characters find themselves in – check! Research for my non-fiction book neatly organized – check! The citation feature is amazing! There’s also the bonus of being able to write with my chapter outlines a mere scroll and a click away.
On the downside, Text-to-Speech isn’t available in the PC version of Scrivener which is a pain in the butt for a person like me. I do most of my editing by listening to the prose being read out loud. I can read out loud to myself for a short story but for chapter after chapter in a novel, it’s nearly impossible.
So if I want to check a chapter or two I have to export it to Word, have the nice computer voice read to me in Word, make editing changes and then copy the chapter(s) back to Scrivener.
The same applies if I want to write when I’m away from my home office. I export the content from Scrivener to Word. Then I save the Word document to an app called Open Docs. Then I send the document to the Air 2. Once finished I can sync the document back to a folder on my PC and then copy and paste back into Scrivener. (There are probably slightly easier ways to do this, such as using Dropbox, but that’s how I do it…)
Good but not great.
Apart from Scrivener, another app I’ve recently started using is Evernote. I was a user back in 2009 but I gave up on it shortly thereafter (I can’t quite remember why). This year I got to into a state where I needed somewhere to store all my bits and pieces in one place, instead of a bunch of apps and my beloved Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I have appointments in my Midori and on my phone. I have my private journals handwritten in the Midori. I have story ideas in Word. Yeesh. It was a pain trying to keep track of everything. The more I used Evernote, the more it seemed that the planning and organisational abilities in Evernote were very similar to Scrivener.
The great thing about Evernote for creatives is that it’s your private giant filing cabinet that allows you to use whatever bonkers filing system you like. It doesn’t force you into using any particular methodology or workflow. You can enter appointments, To Do Lists, shopping lists, your record collection – whatever. You can attach files, which is a bonus for backups, especially when it comes to Word files of your novel / blog. You can also upload photos or take a photo and save it straight to Evernote. And (bonus) you can clip articles from the Web. So… As an experiment I’ve started moving my character outlines and notes from Scrivener to Evernote. I’m also moving some draft chapters into Evernote. If it turns out to be easier to manage my drafts and research in Evernote, then I’ll move to using it full time. I think it’ll be problematic to track citations in Evernote but I won’t know until I try it out…
Finally (drum roll please) the very BEST thing about Evernote for completely broke writers is that the basic account is free. The only limitation with a free account is that the size of a note or upload is restricted and you can only access the notes while you’re online. Apart from that it’s a fully working version.
I’ve just upgraded my account (around $29.99 per year) to get some more storage and be able to use my notes offline. Using Evernote offline allows me to keep writing even if I don’t have access to a 4G or wireless network.
I’ll let you know how the migration from Scrivener to Evernote goes in another post – and whether it was a good idea or not.