Wednesday, November 28, 2018

You Put Your Ideas Where?

As a  creative writer, you get ideas you want to pursue. They may be ideas for a basic plot, a character quirk, some perspective which makes the surrounding unique. Now you have this unique lightning bolt of creative energy,  what do you do with it? Where do you put it?

If you’re in front of your computer or laptop, you write and develop the idea. But what if you are at your favorite club or restaurant?  You could jot it on a napkin.  For a long time, writers carried small notepads or pieces of paper in their pockets just to keep tabs on the ideas which came to them when they could not be writing. 

Creative exercise for the day. Write a short story about a writer who jots an idea for a great novel on a napkin. By the end of the evening, he wipes his mouth on the napkin and discards it. 

Now we understand the value of keeping a writer’s notebook.  Do we carry scraps of paper and ball-point pens wherever we go?  If that is your preference, by all means, continue that tradition.  There are many creative people today who go nowhere without their pocket notebook.

Early on I learned the value of not saying “All” or “Always”.  If I say “All creative people carry a pen.”,  my argument falls apart by finding one creative person who does not carry a pen. I can say with some certainty that most writers carry an iPhone, an Android, or some electronic device that 1) acts as a telephone, and 2) has available software for working with information.

I am an Apple fanatic so my software of choice is always Mac based. I know there are almost always equivalent applications for other hardware and operating systems.  The one requirement I must have is the ability to pass recorded information from the phone to both iPad or tablet and to MacBook or PC. If that can’t happen, the application is not worth its cost. 

As an important point of information, I have no monetary based relationship with Apple or any of the other products I mention in this article. I get nothing, not even a thank you, for my words of praise. 
The most basic note taking application I have and use is Notes on my iPhone. It is quick to activate, easy to get an idea into, and once done, it is available to all my other Mac devices. In a restaurant, or just walking around it is invaluable when recording a quick idea or thought.  Its greatest value is the automatic syncing. I can review and enhance my ideas on any device and know it is available anytime on my other devices.  I do not use my thumbs well on the iPhone, so my primary use of Notes is to get the minimal idea out of my head and on the Cloud.
I have also used Evernote but their developers seem to force a move from the free account to the pay for service model. Not enough bang for the buck.
While Notes meets the need for a Writers Notebook, I wish to introduce an application which you can use as a Notebook and also allows you to build on your ideas. If you wish you could use it to write your entire story. It is not a cheap application and I have a version for OSX (my MacBook) and for IOS (iPad and iPhone). Again,  I like and use it. Your mileage may vary.
The application is Devonthink Pro. I used it to build a database called IDEAS. Within that Database, I have three groups; Short Story Ideas, Blog post Ideas, and Novel Ideas. Again, you can use it on the iPhone, to the iPad, to the MacBook and syncing is immediate and painless. What I like most about this application is I can develop and enhance my ideas to whatever level I wish.  It allows me to write the entire story if I wish. For example, this is an entry I made Thanksgiving before the meal hit the table. As you can see, I set the mood in the first sentence. I could have continued and written the entire story if I was a good thumb typist and it was not a festive meal. 

Title: The house with four steps.
Location:  A suburb of Houston near the Gulf.

My most recent experiences in Texas happened in the house with four steps and a vindictive ghost.

I thumbed this into my iPhone and then corrected my thumb failures using my iPad later in the evening. Whether you use a simple text editor, or a Databae system to record and develop your ideas, the goal is the quick and easy recall of your thoughts. It should not matter if they are yesterday's ideas or those of last year. Your notebook is a friend you need to hold close.