We all get up every morning with every intent to create. A million things can get in the way, but we do everything we can to beat them back and de-prioritize them into invisibility. Many times we lose. The world outside invades our creative moments and we scramble to make time at night, while the world sleeps.
But one of the benefits to living in a world of silicon and pixels and widgets is the sheer number of tools at our disposal. And some of these tools can improve your focus, guide your attention toward your story and trap the rest of the universe in a strong box, padlock and all.
Here are five assets for all of you storytellers out there. Enjoy. Then go weave some yarns.
Brainwave Apps: These apps are available from a number of companies but the one that works for me is by Tesla Software. The science behind the system is based on the idea that our brains’ electrical activity can be altered by sound. Install the app on your phone, plug in your earbuds and set the tone to Focus. The 300 app is surprisingly effective at focusing my brain on the task at hand. It really is like a dose of Ritalin. I’m sure results will vary but it’s worth a shot if focus is elusive.
Trello: Trello is like a Pinterest for your project, but with a robust organization system that you’ll either like or hate. While the tool is best for teams, it’s also a great way to move ideas around. If you love Pinterest and use it as a place for inspiration then you might want to take a look at Trello.
Stayfocused: This plug-in is for Chrome only. Stayfocused will block sites that suck up your time like Facebook and any site with cat pics on it. If you want other non-Chrome versions, you’ll find some listed near the bottom of the linked review.
Scrivener: Scrivener is more than just a word processor app. It’s essentially an operating system with writing at its core. It allows you to treat your chapters, ideas, outlines and research as files in a Windows/MacOS way. I know it’s heresy to put Mac and Windows together, but Scrivener really does consider your work the same way an OS does. It assumes that you like to move ideas around, track them so you don’t lose them and back them up easily. When you consider that Scrivener also offers a cork board for idea organization, an outline mode that collects your scenes/pages/chapters in outline automatically AND color coding you begin to see its benefits. Yes, it’s tough to learn but when you get it you’ll notice a new level of focus and organization.
bubbl.us: There are a lot of mindmap apps out there but bubbl.us still offers the most for free. The UI is dated and it requires Flash (for now) but it’s ease-of-use is impressive. Storytellers can use mindmaps to get a visual of their story quickly. It lets you spot links between situations and characters that would have been hidden if they stayed in your head. Think of mindmapping as a kind on index card system but where the red string between cards will bend any way you want. Handy stuff.
Google Docs: Yeah, this one may be a little obvious or plain vanilla, BUT did you know about the Voice feature in Docs? That’s right, you can use your voice to write your story, brainstorm or journal. If you have a decent mic you can tell your story the old fashioned way and Google will do an outstanding job of capturing every word. It takes some getting used to but you’d be surprised by how much story you can let loose when you get in the groove.
We all have our own favorite tools, but if you’re looking for new ones to help get you going (and stay going!) then try out one or two. Shake it up!