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Writer Tip: Stop Bookmarking, Start Archiving

Tell me if any of these things have ever happened to you…

You find a webpage containing a great piece of information for a project. You bookmark it. And then…

  1. You forget all about it
  2. You lose the bookmark amongst the thousands of others you’ve hoarded
  3. Your bookmark synchronization service goes bananas and you lose the link
  4. You come back to the link and the page… has gone
But… it was right there…

I’m a total data hoarder and all of these things have happened to me more than a few times. It’s maddening.

As a writer, one of the first tips you are given is the importance of keeping a notebook or “ideas file” – a place to hoard ideas, snippets of dialogue or text, pictures of things you might want in a story later, and anything else you might need. I’ve a shelf full of paper notebooks full of this stuff (and the occasional shopping list) and its one of the reasons people say I’m never short on ideas – I’ve built up a hoard.

But, my writing life doesn’t always take place within reach of that shelf. My writing life happens all over the house. It happens in the supermarket, on trains, in car-parks, coffee shops, and (more often than I should probably admit) in the bathroom.

The go-to solution for most writers in this situation is Evernote, the grand-daddy of note taking applications. I’d love to say that I’m 100% digital, but I’m not. However, when it comes to artifacts I find on the web, I do have a system – and a tip to share with you.

Never save bookmarks.
Let Evernote be your scrapbook for the web.

Evernote can archive any web page, taking a copy of text and images and dropping them straight into your account. It can also strip out formatting you don’t need and make the whole article searchable, just like all your other notes. It can even save snippets if you have highlighted a section of text.

Forget your shelf of notebooks or scribbling in a notepad or back of a napkin – you’re carrying a indexed, searchable notebook of infinite size in your pocket already.

How to use Evernote to archive a web page on your phone

Next time you see a great web page on your phone and want to keep a record of it, don’t bookmark it.

Instead, share the page to Evernote using the share icon in your browser or the browser’s menu. Evernote will take a copy of the page and store it. If you want to use any of the advanced features, press and hold the Evernote button when it appears on the page during the save process.

How to use Evernote to archive a web page in your browser.

Evernote offers a powerful extension for Chrome that you can use to trigger the “Save to Evernote” process on any page.

Follow this link to install the Evernote Web Clipper in Chrome.

I’ve saved a lot of web pages using this method and since I started doing this I’ve never had a problem with losing a saved web page or not being able to find it when I needed it.  When I need an idea, I can even page randomly through my saved pages.

Don’t worry about losing track of where you found in the information in the first place. Evernote notes have a special URL field that is automatically populated with where you found the information, so it’s easy to check for updated information and cite your sources if you’re writing non-fiction.

 

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