When I first start preparing a sermon I have questions, comments, and ideas. Some will lead to nothing useful, the thing is at the time I don’t know the jetsam from the real freight. What I need to do is capture my initial musings for later sifting, sorting and study.
The speed of the keyboard is not a good fit for capturing this kind of pondering. I do better with handwriting; it is slower and less exacting. Initial research findings have collaborated my experience suggesting that handwriting is well-suited for reflective engagement. In the past, I used a pen and notebook to leverage this benefit, but now I have found a better way: Evernote handwriting.
Evernote Handwriting Captures the Creative Flow
Inputting Evernote notes via handwriting exists across mobile and tablet platforms. For whatever reason, the terminology is not identical. Android users will see the input icon labeled “Handwriting” while iOS users are presented with “Add Sketch”. Yet, the core functionality of writing, erasing and selecting is very similar. Apple users do have access to a “highlighter” option and Android users can append another “page” to their handwritten input if they run out of real estate.
Now you could use your finger as a make-do pen but you will get better results using a stylus designed for your device. Even though handwritten input can be entered via a smartphone, tablets with their larger surface make handwriting less cramped and more natural. Regardless of what device you use for the original handwritten input, Evernote will resize it so that it is viewable on any device.
An Evernote note can contain multiple types of input in the same note. For example, you can mix typed input with handwritten input. Plus a note can have more than one handwritten element. So you could enter typed input, then a handwritten portion, then more typed input followed by another handwritten element. Each handwritten element of a note can be edited independently of the others by tapping on it.
Handwritten input is searchable by Evernote. The OCR processing is not faultless, but I have found it to be accurate enough to be useful. You will realize better results if your handwriting is legible, and oriented either horizontally or vertically (not diagonally).
Evernote Handwriting and My Sermon Prep
In the earliest stages of preparing a text for preaching I copy the Scripture portion into an Evernote note. If necessary, I edit the text in Evernote so that there is a blank line between each verse of the text. Now I am ready to reflect on the text.
As questions and ideas come to my mind I capture them via handwriting input. If they are associated with a particular verse then I input the handwriting immediately following the text (leaving blank lines makes this easier).
I label this note with a unique Evernote tag that is associated with the sermon. By making that tag a menu shortcut this note along with all the other notes I similarly tag (e.g., web-based research) are readily accessible as I work through preparing the sermon.
Although my handwritten notes are searchable by Evernote I do not use this functionality. My handwriting inputs are initial musings, questions, and half-baked ideas. I review them as I work through the rest of my sermon prep. They prompt additional research and may give some directions to how I present the text. I don’t anticipate they will contain insight for which I will be searching. But I might be surprised and Evernote’s ability to search handwriting makes that an option.
Some Additional Resources
Evernote iOS App Sketch Tool Tour – YouTube
How to add hand-drawn sketches to Evernote on iOS devices
The pen is mightier than the finger: The best styli for all your needs
Evernote tags: Are you using them strategically?