How To Capture Ideas When They Come

August 27th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

files photoThere are times in every writer’s life when ideas will come flooding in — but not for the story you’re working on.  You don’t want to forget those little gems because they would be great in another story, yet they’re useless for what you’re doing right now.  So what do you do?

Here’s a few ways how to capture ideas when they come:

Something I learned a long time ago was to keep an idea file.  Ideas come in many forms from quotes we’ve read to pictures we’ve seen to that fabulous new movie we just saw (if you have the time ;)).  Whatever the form, it’s best to capture the idea as soon as possible.

For certain items, such as magazine articles, it’s easy enough to rip them out and file them away in a file cabinet.  For others we have to get a bit more creative.  An example would be a wonderful painting from a museum.  It’s considered a crime to grab the painting and run (and I’m pretty sure trying to explain it away as “needing it for my idea file” wouldn’t get you very far).  Thus we must get creative.  You may be able to photograph it or, barring that, perhaps sketch it.  If you’re art skills don’t go beyond stick men, then maybe you could write a description of it.

One nifty little tool I’ve discovered is Evernote. If you’ve got a smart phone, this application can be very useful. Snap a picture of whatever sparked your story idea, then share it to your Evernote with notes, tags, whatever. Your ideas are readily available to you via the web on any smartphone (with the downloaded app) or computer. You can even do this with magazine articles instead of ripping them out of the magazine. Simply take a picture and file it away.

Regardless of how you get the inspirational item into your idea file, remember to write down the idea that was inspired and attach it.  Sticky notes work great for hard copies (though the sticky does eventually wear off so be aware that your ideas may go wandering in your file).

Writing takes ideas.  Being an Independent Author means being creative in every area of your career.  And so, that’s why it’s important to collect the little gems that inspire you along.

What other creative solutions have you found to capturing story ideas?

Photo by mcfarlandmo

Is Speech Recognition Software The Next Step In Writing

August 8th, 2011

headphones photoI think any writer can tell you that, when you stop writing, life becomes nothing but shades of grey. That’s what my last few weeks have been — nothing but shades of grey. In short I’ve been miserable. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write. It’s just that I’ve been very busy. I usually have just enough time to juggle all my responsibilities, including working on my current project, but I’ve recently picked up a few hours at work and its severely limited my time.

And so I am once again faced with trying to find a creative work around to my lack of time. I’ve heard that voice recognition software can really speed up the process of writing. However, as I test this new software today, I’m finding it more than challenging. Why? Because I’m used to letting the words flow through my fingers and talking in my head, not out loud. I’ve found staring at a blank screen to be daunting as I try to decide what words to say. I usually close my eyes and “let my fingers do the walking,” but with speech recognition software you have to keep track of what the machine is doing. (Of course, that could just be the perfectionist in me. :P)

I have to wonder if this software is more for people like my husband who likes to talk things out rather than write. He’s a very auditory person. I’m very visual. In fact when I talk in my head I actually see the words as they float by. Strange, I know, but then I wouldn’t be a writer if I weren’t a little strange.

So far I’ve spent more time trying to get this software to do what I want than getting any work done. It would’ve been faster to type this than use voice recognition. Still, I don’t like to give up on something new, so I’ll go through some training with my computer and give it a little more time before I decide to chuck it all.

I’m curious to know, is there any writer out there who thinks voice recognition software is the greatest thing since sliced bread? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Is this the next step from pen to typewriter to computer to speech?