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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tools of the Trade Part 1

Everywhere I go, I carry around a small moleskine notebook, not unlike the one you see above. I go very few places without it - my wife will attest to this. In the past I have used very LARGE notebooks, but carrying them around was hard and I got tired of writing down ideas on napkins. For years, about the only gifts I ever got from (well-meaning but misguided) friends were notebooks. Next to my bed is a pad of lined paper and a pen just in case I get an idea while in bed. It happens. Moleskines, or some similar notebook, are essential to being a writer in my opinion. Or to any creative professional. You never know when inspiration will strike. I only wish it wasn't while I was driving so very often (yes, I have pulled over to write down an idea before). About the only negative thing about it is the elastic band stretches out and becomes useless (I might just cut it off). So it won't surprise you to know that my moleksine is chock-full of random, random, random chaos. Did I mention it was random?

In today's age, however, technology rules. eBooks are the next big thing (supposedly). Kindles can not only download novels, but they can access Wikipedia at any time. A small audio recorder is simple to find, and I should probably get one for the car (but knowing me, I'd never actually write down what I recorded). But what are the REAL tools of the trade now for keeping your ideas in check?

In my opinion, Google, the company that makes Big Brother look like a reality TV show, has a true gem. While they are currently working on Google Wave, their up-and-running Google Docs is truly a sight to behold. If you do not use it, you should look it over. If you do not have a google account, go make one. Gmail doesn't hurt that badly, and Google already knows who you are, where you are, and what you search for, so it's really not going to do much to let them help you with email.

In all seriousness, Google Docs allows you to write, draw, or make a spreadsheet online, so you can get to it from any computer with internet access. Nice for a writer. I keep one file for all my ideas. Actually, I keep one for plot ideas, one for character ideas, and one for other ideas. If you are trying to collaborate with someone, say an artist, classmate, or editor, you can share the file with them. You can let them edit it so the two of you can work on it together... in real-time... or you can just let them see it and not actually write over anything. Either way, this makes it easy to make collaborative works online, as well as get things edited in the blink of an eye. Personally, I think everyone should use this. Now, I do hear of some negative things... like Google owns anything you write in it. If that's true, I'd like to see the very interesting court case that would follow in case they decided to steal someone's idea. If you are really worried about it, I'm sure there are other sites that do similar things. Google Wave will become open source, so anyone can make their own Wave that will compete with Google and Google will have 0 ownership. I'm keeping my eye out for Wave...

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