Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Dealing with flashes of inspiration

If you have no ideas, no thoughts what must you do?
Well if your intention is to write and you are devoid of inspiration perhaps the only course of action is to step away from the keyboard. What possible good could come from trying to paint a picture without a vision, model or a subject?

The frustration is surely your own. If you have set aside some time to write - that is you have cleared your diary and allocated an hour or two for the sole purpose of writing - and yet your head is empty then writing anything will probably be a futile exercise. What possible meaning could anything have if you have no drive, no motivation or a single seed of inspiration.

But this kind of a writer's block grips me on a regular basis. I'm not a pro writer, nor do I wish to be. For me it is simply a means of expression. Something that I do for my own satisfaction.

My head is so full of the day and the effects of my "situation" that I rarely am able to completely purge the crap from my memory such that I have a blank canvas with which to play.

Perhaps there is some merit in simply closing the computer and doing something else. Stepping outside, enjoying the sunshine, cooking, driving, even bloody shopping. But what if I'm gripped by something as I'm doing any of these things and am unable to reflect the thought and save it for later consideration?

Actually this is something of a nonsense anyway since I'm far better at dealing with thoughts and inspiration the moment they emerge. If I'm stuck in traffic and suddenley the idea for a short 1000 word story occurs to me I will probably over process it in my mind to the point that it becomes a mush. When I do finally get to sit and write it up it will have lost its edge and appeal.

Short of sitting nailed to the desk and waiting for that lightning flash of inspiration to strike I'm not sure of the best approach. 

So I changed my approach.
Instead of relying on that happy chance of being in the right place at the right time to capture my thoughts I took the means with which to express with me.
On a daily basis I drift between iPad, iPhone, laptop and occasionally a chrome book. In each case I may be working on something specific or best suited to the device. At any time I may be in the office, in bed, in a cafe, travelling in the car or, well, anywhere. So it's important that I can quickly turn to something to write or narrate my thoughts.

On the iOS devices I installed an app called iA Writer. You can see it here:

It's fantastic. I'm using it right now and all that you have is the joy of the writing experience. On iPad it's a pleasure to use. I have an iPad case that props up such that I can sit it on my knee and type via the on-screen keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard. Whichever suits. On iPhone I generally narrate using the Siri option for microphone input when the on-screen keyboard is displayed. This option is pretty useful when I'm driving. Saves having to find somewhere to stop and I get to preserve the same conditions that led to my having the inspiration in the first place. I.e. The scenery whizzing past and the mundane process of driving in traffic.

On the laptop and chrome book I use a Chrome extension called Writebox. There are countless available so I just picked one with a clean interface and access to Dropbox. It's very good and highly recommended.

I use Dropbox to store documents as simple text files. Providing I don't get in a mess with synching my documents it all works beautifully.

Using this approach I now have many, many documents no longer than 500 words stored in my Dropbox account. Some of which I may well return to as inspiration but generally they served a purpose - to allow me to accurately reflect what was going through my mind at that time.

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