Whether you’re a content wrangler for a technology brand, or a NaNoWriMo participant (heck, we know someone who’s both), there are bound to be moments that cause panic, stress, or confusion on the long and winding road to Storyville.
The good news is that in the thousands of years humans have been telling stories, everyone before you has faced the same challenges. Your writing process is essentially like the elements of the timeless three-act story: there are heroes, conflicts, and resolutions.
Here are some of our favorite resources, tips, and tools that help you tackle the three major acts of writing: researching, writing, and editing.
Act I, Scene 1: Research
“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” – Ernest Hemingway
Just like a house cannot be built without a strong foundation, your writing cannot take flight in the absence of necessary research. A house needs a blueprint and so does your writing. Research, outline, and get familiar with the territory. Then write.
From news to long-form articles, the Web Clipper is the perfect way to capture the content you want to read. Clip now, read later, or easily organize the material for reference.
Blinkist is an app that curates a ton of the most popular articles and books and distills the best advice, lessons, and tips for topics like productivity, time management, and leadership. You can highlight those insights and sync them directly to an Evernote notebook, including bibliographical information like book title and author.
Some of our stories start with a trend. Buzzsumo surfaces trends that people are talking about on social media channels. It also helps us connect to influential authors, thought leaders, and Evernote power users in topics we care about (like productivity). Because it ranks content popularity across social networks, we see content that could make an impact with our users.
Act I, Scene 2: Read, read, and read some more
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” – Stephen King
Reading strongly influences your writing whether you’re a knowledge worker, professional, or just dreaming of becoming an author. Here are a few apps that help you build a reading list in Evernote.
With IFTTT, you get creative control over your favorite products on the Internet by setting up “recipes” that tell one app to talk to another. Here are a few recipes that are perfect for researching and writing.
Save favorite tweets right to Evernote:
Publish a post from Evernote to Medium:
With Feedly, you can add RSS feeds from your favorite blogs, web sites, magazines, and journals with a quick click. The articles will then automatically be ready for reading in Feedly whether on the desktop or smartphone. You can save articles from Feedly directly to Evernote with a Feedly Pro account, or use an IFTTT recipe to save links to favorite articles.
Email newsletters to Evernote
Move your email newsletters out of the inbox and into Evernote. Michael Hyatt employs this tactic, and it’s a great way to save and categorize valuable information. These days, we save newsletters from best-selling authors Jeff Goins, Austin Kleon, and Next Draft.
Act II: Write
“Write every day.” – Neil Gaiman
It’s important to keep tabs on how much has been written. For NaNo-writers, this is an especially crucial step to reach the lofty goal of 50,000 words.
Evernote Word Count
The note editors in both Evernote for Mac and Windows desktop let you see real-time word counts for your writing.
Act III: Edit
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh
There really are no words for that sentiment. Editing is tough. But brilliant editing can tie up loose ends, ensure accuracy, and bring an author credibility. There are two tools that really stand out.
Grammarly (available on Chrome) helps point out issues before we publish in WordPress, tweet, or push a Facebook update.
It’s critical that we write with accuracy, brevity, and clarity. As we write, Hemingway highlights copy that could be more active and engaging. It also allows you to see where your current word count stands. As you can see, we have a long way to go before hitting 50,000.