August 15

How to use writing tools Scrivener, Dropbox, and Evernote to organize and safeguard your writing

    Today I am sharing my three favorite writing tools for staying organized in my own, personal writing: Scrivener, Dropbox, and Evernote. Using these three programs together, I have created a beautiful little system that makes it simple for me to collect bits of writing for different contexts and review them all easily, to capture ideas as the come to me, and to ensure that everything is backed up onto the cloud. If my hard drive ever crashes, all I’ll need to do is spend 10 minutes downloading software, log back into the cloud storage, and it’ll be like nothing catastrophic ever happened.

    I’ll go through each of the software apps here, but I’ve also created a workshop video, so you can actually see the interfaces of Scrivener, Dropbox, and Evernote on my laptop. So, here’s the video, and I describe each a bit more in the text after the video. Links to each of the writing tools are at the end of this post.


    Scrivener is an ever-expanding, all-encompassing binder

    I hadn’t heard of Scrivener until a client brought it to my attention earlier this year, but once I tried it out, I was completely hooked. If you use Microsoft Word for your writing projects, you probably have several folders on your desktop (or wherever), and inside each folder you have more folders, and inside each of those folders is a bunch of Word documents. To see what you’ve written in each document, you have to double-click the icon, wait for the document to open up, and finally remember what you’ve written there. Combining texts from different documents is a hazardous headache at best.

    Scrivener allows you to open up a global file. Within my one, global file, I can quickly click through any of my text documents to see what I’ve written. I can organize them within folders and copy and paste between documents, but since it all happens within the global file, so it’s fast and easy to see where everything is at a glance.

    Plus, Scrivener automatically backs itself up every time you close it out.

    Dropbox is the cloud that keeps my Scrivener file secure

    Now, Scrivener’s default is to back up its file on your hard drive, but if your hard drive crashes, you’re out of luck. That’s where Dropbox comes in. Dropbox allows you to have a folder on its cloud for free (up to 2 GB, which is plenty for a Scrivener file). When you sign up for a free Dropbox account, Dropbox will automatically put a folder on your desktop. Then, when Scrivener asks you where you want to save your file, you select your Dropbox folder. If your hard drive ever crashes, you buy a new computer, sign into Dropbox, your personal little folder will appear, you download Scrivener, and you open up your Scrivener file that’s in your Dropbox. Viola. Like nothing ever happened.

    Evernote is where I capture all of my random thoughts

    What happens when I’m surfing the Internet, I run across an idea, and I want to make sure that idea gets written down somewhere? Open a new Word document and stuff it in a nested folder somewhere? Write it on a scrap piece of paper and let it yellow and decay in some file? Not with Evernote around!

    Evernote is a free app that you can download to your desktop, phone, and tablet. You can create a system of notebooks (basically, folders) and put notes inside each notebook. I have a neat little system of notebooks/folders for my Paper Raven Editing business, courses I take, my personal life, everything, really. Any time I have a thought, I create a new note and put it in my “inbox.” I have regular days that I go into my inbox and file new notes into their appropriate notebooks (business, courses, personal, etc). Those notes are very easy to find in my system, or I can search Evernote, and it usually knows which note I’m trying to find.

    Some of those ideas, articles, and images that I file into Evernote do become pieces of writing in Scrivener, but not always. I like to know that my random thoughts and pieces of information are safe in Evernote, but my intentional writing space in Scrivener remains uncluttered, organized, and purposeful.

    Evernote automatically backs up to its own cloud. If ever my hard drive crashes, I buy a new laptop, download the free Evernote app, log in to my account, and every single note will be right where I left it. Beautiful.

    If any of these three programs sounds interesting to you, here are the links:


    What about your system for organizing your writing life?

    What programs or apps do you use? Or do you prefer writing out long-hand and keeping physical files? Let me know in the comments!


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