About the Author

Glen Dresser is a novelist whose first book, Correction Road, was released in 2007 and shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary book prize. He has also worked as a technical writer, information designer and web developer. He is currently focusing his efforts on his second novel and his first-born son, while assisting with UPPERCASE Magazine

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Evernote and XMind

Janine has been using Evernote for years at UPPERCASE to manage all of her content both for the magazine and blog, and had encouraged me to check it out. I hadn't really been able to see how it fit into my writing process, but after some people from Evernote came up to do a promo video with Janine, I decided to give it another try. Only a week later, it's already proving indispensible. 

I'm a huge fan of mind-mapping. I use it throughout my writing process, but particularly towards the beginning, when I'm collecting ideas and seeing how they relate to one-another. Evernote doesn't really support mind-mapping. It has a few integrations that export mind-maps into Evernote, but this doesn't really work for me, as I want a mind-map that I can edit throughout the writing process; I want the mind-maps to be an overarching structure for my information, not simply content within my information.

On the other hand, one of the problems with mind-mapping tools is that they tend to really do rich content, and editing individual nodes is often cumbersome. But I've been working out a process that combines Evernote with the mind-mapping tool XMind. These are both free tools at their basic level, which is all I need for this process. 

Here's the process: 


  1. I started by creating a hierarchy of tags in Evernote, such as a tag for characters, and then a tag for each individual character. Similar hierarchies for themes, locations, voices, type of content etc. These aren't really deep hierarchies, just two levels. 
  2. I start writing content directly in Evernote, ranging from actual scenes, to character descriptions, to summaries, to background info. Of course, I have tags for all these different types of content as well. This allows me to write a character description, and then tag it with the character's name, as well as a tag for the type of content: character description. I'll be able to sort through this content in a number of ways, using this tag. For example, I could bring up all scenes told by a particular narrator, involving a particular character. 
  3. Where this becomes really useful for me is when I start to use them with Xmind. XMind allows you to attach an HTML hyperlink to a node. When you click on the link, it opens an web browser window within XMind. So In this web browser, I log into the online version of Evernote, open my notebook, and then begin copying the URLs. Every node in the mindmap can be made to correspond to a note in Evernote, or even to an Evernote tag. 
  4. Once I've created a few nodes in XMind, I can start to link together themes and characters in the mindmap, making all the connections I need to sort through all my ideas; yet at the same time I can edit the content of my notes through the browser Evernote interface. 


This is the best system I've found for making technology work with the way my writing mind works. I can use Evernote to store and categorize ideas either when I'm at my computer or through my phone when I'm out; yet it also allows me to do the sort of complex association and visualization that can be achieved only through a mind-mapping interface. 


Reader Comments (1)

You can link directly to an Evernote ON YOUR PC rather than the web version of the note in a bropwser. It loadsmuch faster and you'll have you'll have all of the advantages of the desktop version of Evernote's note editor. This is an undocumented "trick" so pay attention! Here's how:

1. Find the note you want in the List of your desktop Evernote.

2. Right-click on the listing of the note you want.

3. (Here's the "trick" part): Hold the CONTROL KEY down and select "Copy Note Link" from the context menu.

4. Now paste this into the box for hyperllink on your Xmind mindmap.


Here's what a typical ink looks like on my Windows PC:

This fires up Evernote on my PC and then loads that particular note into a separate note window.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAtaraxius

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