Capturing our Muses; or, How to Keep Inspirational Ideas

A large part of the writing process (at least for me) is writing down flashes of inspiration. Those little brilliant story ideas that come to me in the most inopportune times. Oh, are you stuck in traffic on the freeway? Here, have an amazing Young Adult Fantasy story idea. Oh, in the shower? Hahaha have a brilliant poem that you won’t remember. Did you just wake up? Let me give you fragments of this beautiful dream that you had. Oh, it’s 5 a.m. and you’re delirious? Good luck remembering this one.

We can’t help when a Muse decides to grace us with her presence, but we can help when and how we try to capture these rare golden ideas.

A. Crow’s Inspiration Trapper to Keep(er)

Use a Good Old-Fashioned Notebook

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Now, because I’ve been accused of being a hipster, I use the Moleskine brand. I love their small paperback journals and they come in an assortment of sizes and colors with different paper types to fit your needs. I prefer to use blank pages in the smaller notebooks and grids for the larger notebooks. Yes, please believe that I have many sizes and colors and types of notebooks.. Planners, hard notebooks, journals, watercolor, story boards, Japanese album. I’ve been a sucker for all.

I carry more than one around with me for different purposes. The smaller blank ones I sneak with me when I need something tiny to fit in a pocket or a smaller purse. The larger grid ones I use for poetry and longer story ideas. I find large blank pages to be very intimidating so I use grids to help break that feeling. They are also freer than lined pages so I still have room for creativity. I take these notebooks to bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and even to movie theaters. I remember sitting in a theater watching a trailer and getting struck by an idea. I pulled out my little notebook and jotted the idea down using only the light from the large screen. I can’t control when I’m brilliant, but I can help myself by being prepared.

Use Note-taking Apps on Your Phone

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My personal favorite is Evernote. This thing has it all. Notes, videos, pictures, websites, etc… However, I use it solely for notes. I open the app up and jot down whatever ideas come to me. I use this app when I’m unable to access my notebooks like when I’m in a car (I get carsickness very easily) or if I don’t have my purse. I will often wake up from an intense dream and jot it down with this app.

Evernote is my favorite because the user interface is so easy to use. I open the app, click new note, then immediately start writing. I don’t have to worry about anything else. Extremely painless and private. Another great feature is that it constantly updates itself so I don’t have to worry about drafts or saving it only to my phone.

Use Google Docs

This is by far the best and easiest place for me to write ideas or start writing stories. I love Google Docs. I live and breath in Google Docs. The sole reason for my joy about Google Docs is that I can access them anywhere. With writing on Word Docs or other writing applications I’ve downloaded to my computer, I have to be at my computer. And if my computer breaks, I’m SOL. Which is exactly what happened to me. My laptop died along with a play I had been working on. R.I.P. Lappy 2008-2014. You were a faithful companion.

Anyway, Google Docs are magical for writing out larger ideas or trying to expand on current ones. I also type my poems on them and send them to friends, editors, or to print later one. It’s just so convenient.

These three writing mediums are what I use to help me organize my thoughts and ideas into one seamless writing utensil. Again, this isn’t a debate about which is better, computer or paper, but how I combine both to help me write more efficiently.

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