Elephant never Forgets — Evernote: The Writer’s Journal

Elephant Never Forgets by John Matychuk CC0 Public Domain from Unsplash

      They say the elephant never forgets. Look at the face of the African Elephant here and it is possible to see their power. This is true in my daily life as a writer. Let me explain. When I write, Evernote is my primary method of record­ing all of my writing ideas. I find it such a success­ful tool I constantly feel the need to tell others about it. It is my wish that you find Evernote as useful as I do. Open a note and the working area allows you to concen­trate on the task at hand — that is writing the piece I am working on. More than 200 million people use Evernote as their daily work-space. Best of all you can sign up for free (and not have to give credit card details) and use it for free.

There is a power­ful reason the logo for this tool is an elephant head, it turns the cliché into reality. The elephant never forgets your work.


Why do I Use Evernote?


Evernote      In the second half of the 2000s, I found that my work sched­ule kept me on the move, but during the course of the day I had plenty of open time. It provided creat­ive oppor­tun­it­ies, time to take notes, advance projects, write etc. Most often when I was travel­ling from location to location, using some form of public trans­it, wheth­er taxis, limos, trains, or flying. The tablet computer (as we know it today) had not quite been inven­ted at this time. The notebook computer wasn’t always conveni­ent to use, And the battery was so often nearly dead. One thing I did have, was  a Blackberry phone. This was with me all the time (provided by the company) and was so essen­tial for my work.

I started to take notes via my phone, creat­ing an email to myself and period­ic­ally send myself these notes. As a note progressed I would once again send it to myself. This solution was far from perfect, but it provided a workaround to my thought gather­ing process.

      The day when the phone crashed and the email lost was the day I decided I needed something else. As it turned out this was the day when the Blackberry network for the whole of North America crashed at the same time (the second time in 3 years). That is when I started to look for a software solution that would make sure my work is synced between my phone and computer. I had tried sever­al options that didn’t have what I really needed. I started using Evernote in about 2010 or 2011, hoping this was the one. Today it is the most used software on my computer, perhaps with the single excep­tion of the web browser. I use Evernote to take all the notes I need for my writing. It goes with me every­where, so I can add a note wherever I like. I know the elephant never forgets.


Evernote Notebooks


The basic part of Evernote is the Notebook. They help you organ­ise your work. For example you could organ­ise your work accord­ing to writing project. The follow­ing gives an idea of the type of notebook struc­ture that you may find useful:

From this you should see that it is possible for notebooks to have other notebooks inside them. This means that you can group all your draft work togeth­er in one place, without the published mater­i­al inter­rupt­ing your train of thought. Another way to organ­ise your notebook is by subject, so all related mater­i­al is in the same book. In addition notes can haves tags against them, making it possible to find all mater­i­al related to the tag.


Evernote Interface


Evernote app

The Evernote App has 3 panels, as shown above:

  • The Left Sidebar or Panel.
  • The Notes Panel contain­ing the latest notes, or those in the notebook.
  • The Note contents in the right-hand panel.

In the left panel, you can browse your notes by the notebooks they belong to or by the tags associ­ated with your notes.

In the central Notes Panel you may either scroll down to find the note you wish to work on of search for it, using Search Notes. My Evernote app will sort the notes accord­ing to the Updated Date, in reverse chrono­lo­gic­al order. You can choose how your notes are sorted.


Add a New Note


There are many ways to create a new note. You will create must using the “New Note” button in the app. This will open a new window which will have a Title Box, into which you should add a working title for my piece, and the note body. If you don’t create your own title it will automat­ic­ally fill it from the first line of our work.

The good thing about the new note panel is how it has the look of a word processor. You can change the font, size, format text, add colour etc. You can take a picture from your computer’s camera and have that embed­ded into your note.

Another way of creat­ing new notes is to use the Evernote Clipper tool. This is a web browser exten­sion which you can use to copy a website. To use it you must add the exten­sion to your browser and activ­ate it. When you first use the Clipper tool (and when you have not used it for some time) you will need to sign in to your Evernote account.


Evernote Clipper

      Clipping web pages is easy, all you need to do is click on the elephant icon in your browser toolbar, select the notebook you wish to save the item in then click “Save”. I clip articles that I intend to refer­ence from work I have under­way. This saves me keeping the web page open for sever­al days at a time. I normally delete those notes once I have finished the article that I am devel­op­ing. You should always respect the originator’s copyright.


Lists and Action Items

Evernote to do checkbox

      Many users have Evernote manage their daily to-do list, insert­ing check boxes into their notes. I use this when there are sever­al points that need cover­ing in a piece before it is complete, such as a remind­er to tell a partic­u­lar story. Normally, I delete the check list when the note is complete and I am ready to publish my mater­i­al.

      These lists do not take the place of a serious to-do or project manage­ment tool, but are fine to set topic remind­ers, perhaps items that need research­ing.

Evernote Table

Another tool you can use here is the table. This is useful for more complex lists. It is simil­ar to the table that can be used in Microsoft Word and doesn’t offer the complex­it­ies associ­ated with an Excel spread­sheet.



You can print your notes directly from Evernote. I do this occasion­ally when needed. It will print your note in memo style. The Note title is at the top of the page, followed by details about the note, then the text of the note. I normally print a note when showing something to someone who doesn’t use the tool.



What I like about Evernote


The best feature Evernote offers is is the one you think least about. The ability to sync your data between devices. You can install it on your PC, use it on a Tablet and the software ensures that your work remains synced. You need not take any steps to make that happen. If you sign-up with the basic/free plan it is possible to sync only two devices, although if you find yourself using, such as, a computer in the library you may still log in to the web version of the product without having to pay an extra fees on your plan. The Plus plan costs $47 per year, while Premium is $90 and each has addition­al facil­it­ies that are neces­sary for the serious user. Plus is afford­able but there is plenty of capab­il­ity with the free version.

I have never lost a note since using Evernote. Should you attempt to edit one note in two places (like your PC and your Android device). The software places your note into a tempor­ary “Conflicting Changes” notebook. It is rare, but when it does happen, all you need to do is look at both versions then manually apply any changes that couldn’t be merged automat­ic­ally and remove the conflict­ing document.

If you find something you don’t under­stand there is an on-line help and learn­ing centre which will offer a helping hand. This is quite an in-depth repos­it­ory of knowledge.


The Elephant Never Forgets

Are you inter­ested in using Evernote. If you are then you can sign up here. Remember: the elephant never forgets


  1. Okay, I’m going to give it a shot. I’m getting better at this techno­logy thing and I think Evernote will work for me. But I’m not going to throw out my pen and paper just yet…

    • Mary, When I try something new I never throw away the old system, until I am certain the new one works for me. These things are often a case of trial and error and how comfort­able they are for your way of working.

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