How should I manage my workflow for writing a nonfiction book?
October 16, 2011 6:51 PM   Subscribe

How should I manage my workflow for researching and writing a nonfiction book using Evernote and other tools?

I'm writing a nonfiction book that involves a lot of Web research, book research, and expert interviews. I'm looking for advice on how to manage my workflow with Evernote and other tools on my Mac. Currently I'm using Workflowy for outlining and strategy, Evernote for research and content and notetaking, and Scrivener for actually writing prose.

Some questions I could use help with:

1. My research process involves a lot of Web research, viewing articles online that contain information I will discuss and cite in my book. How should I manage the process of collecting information from the Web? I've been using Evernote, but I'm not sure how to approach it.
a) Should I clip entire articles or only the paragraphs that are relevant?
b) Should I create one note per article, or should I create one note for each relevant paragraph?

2. How should I manage the process of determining which paragraphs are relevant? Evernote currently does not offer a "highlight" feature. The way I do it now is to go through the clipped article in Evernote BOLDING all the paragraphs that are relevant to my book. Problems with this process:
a) This can be confusing though when there are already bolded headings or bolded Q&A questions.
b) I have to manually copy and paste the bolded paragraphs into a word processor.

3. How should I manage the process of distilling the relevant paragraphs from Web articles and processing the information? My current process is that I copy and paste the bolded paragraphs into Scrivener, then write a paragraph of my own about each article paragraph I need to discuss, deleting the copied article paragraphs as I go. One problem with this is that I have to manually create endnotes by copying the URL from Evernote and creating footnotes in Scrivener.

4. How should I manage the citation process? Ultimately I want to have a paragraph of endnotes, with each endnote associated with a particular page of the book. Ideally I would have a tool that would automatically create endnotes citing the URL of the Web article from which I copied relevant paragraphs in Evernote.

5. How should I keep track of which Evernote clipped articles I've processed and which ones I haven't? What should I do to each note to tell myself that I've gone through that page, so I can separate out the pages I have yet to sift through and those I have already sifted through? Currently I'm adding a "new" tag to every article I clip, then removing it after I process it.

6. I am accumulating names of experts to interview. What tool should I use to keep track of a list of interview subjects, and how should I keep track of which ones I've already interviewed and which ones I have yet to interview? Currently I'm using a tool called Trello which allows you to create and manage "boards" with different items like "to interview," to "interviewed, still need to transcribe," "transcribed, need to sift through," and "sifted through, all done with this interviewee." But Trello doesn't allow me to create tags, and it seems cumbersome to be using so many different tools. Maybe I should try to manage the whole process in Evernote?

7. How should I manage the process of writing new ideas using Evernote? Should I create a new note for every idea I have and then try to tag it? A single note with all my new ideas?

8. How should I manage my tags, stacks, and notebooks? Currently I have stacks and notebooks, e.g. a stack called "Web Research," and then individual notebooks for different topics. So far I haven't found a use for tags. I have been tagging articles as I go, but they usually wind up being redundant with my stack/notebook structure, and when I'm looking for something I just read through the relevant notebook.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
posted by incandescentman to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This episode of Mac Power Users might be worth listening to. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but I'd be surprised if some wisdom wasn't gained from listening.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:06 PM on October 16, 2011

Best answer: Here's one opinion.

1. Clip only relevant paragraphs as you'll have link to the entire article if you need it. Use multiple notes for multiple clips from the same article if their presence in the same article is only incidental. Otherwise, keep them together. It won't affect search.
2. You won't have to bold if you only clip what's relevant.
3. I haven't used Scrivener so I can't speak to the footnotes. I would use two monitors to look at my source while writing.
4. How about a tool like this?
5. In addition to removing the "new" tag, I would add a "processed" tag so you're sure you just didn't forget to mark an article.
6. Trello is pretty sweet and the labels would function perfectly as tags (hold your mouse over a card and hit a number between 1 and 6 to assign labels), but I agree you could do this in Evernote. You could have a collection for interviews and a note for each interview tagged appropriately, or you could have just a few notes that each have a list of names similar to your Trello organization.
7. I would use one note with several one-liner ideas, and if your ideas are getting extensive I would give them their own note and tag it.
posted by michaelh at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2011

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