I thought it would be fun to show the things I use to be creative, not that any of them are really required for what I do, but these are the things I always go back to. I try to be somewhat minimalistic, because I find that simplicity makes it easier for me to focus on being productive.
This is just the best computer, and even though I have started to travel with only my iPad, I could never go long-term without a laptop. More than once I have hugged my MBP after returning from a trip. Of course I could write from any computer. I actually do most of my writing from a Dell at work. But this one is pretty and highly functional and easy to carry around. I use it for everything, including recording and editing my vlogs. It works for me and has for years.
I just upgraded to an iPhone 5 and it is even more amazing than I expected it to be. I don’t carry around a notebook all the time, so I use my phone to take notes if I’m struck with an idea and don’t have a computer. It also allows me to view and edit my notes on Evernote. But, more than anything, it serves my creativity by being full of music and podcasts. Music I listen to while I’m writing and podcasts often inspire things that I write.
I keep most of my lists and notes on Evernote. It has a nice interface, but what I like most about it is that it syncs across all of my devices instantly, and I can even access it from the web (which I do when I’m at work). The Mac, iPad, and iPhone apps are all pretty and functional. It is really the only productivity app I use and I like it for its simplicity.
Google Docs always seems a bit clunky to me, but I have used it for years to do almost all of my writing. I have time to do a lot of writing at work, and I find Google Docs so much easier to use than editing Word documents and emailing them to myself. Now I use Google Docs even when I’m at home on my own computer. If my work situation changed and I was always working from my personal computer, then I probably would not continue to use Google Docs, but it suits my needs so perfectly right now. It’s also good for collaboration! I write all of my blog posts in Google Docs and then copy them into WordPress when I’m done.
Unlike a lot of journalers I know, I don’t collect pretty notebooks. I used to when I was younger and then I almost never wrote in them. When I finally started journaling in earnest 10 years ago, I bought one large and boring journal and spent four years filling it. Since then, I’ve always gone for a large journal and write in it until I reach the last page and then I buy a new one. My last two journals have been this one from Moleskine, which I must admit was very intimidating at first, because the ruling is small and there are many pages, but it only took a year of feelings and writing like hell to finish it. It’s kind of expensive for a journal, but since I only buy one a year at most, it’s an easy decision for me.
Spiral Bound Notebook
This is the newest edition and I’m not sure if it will be permanent. After reading Steal Like An Artist, I was searching for ways to be creative away from a computer. My journal already serves a function, but I wanted another place to brainstorm, so I bought a notebook and hoped I would find a reason to use it. I wasn’t prepared to invest in another Moleskine, so I experimented with something cheap. I haven’t used it in the creative way I really planned, but I have enjoyed making lists by hand, and I will often spend a few moments before I go to bed planning out what I hope to get done the next day.
Pilot Razor Point
I have never been a pen person. I have never understood pen people. I just used whatever cheap ball point I could find. At least, this was all true until a couple years ago when I discovered the Pilot Razor Point. I mean, this is stupid, but I always journaled using just a Bic, so it was a big deal to me when I made the move to this pen, which I can best describe as an Ultra-Ultra Fine Sharpie. Everything up to a certain point in 2010 is written in faint pen and everything after is written in sharp, black-as-night-ink. Now, this is really the only pen I like to use; you can usually find 2 in my purse, 3 by my bed, 5 in my back pack, and 10 in my desk. They’re sold in a box that looks like it was sent from the 80s, but they work like magic.
In paper. I do read some books electronically and appreciate that option, but for books I really care about, I still buy them in paper and write all over them. Because it’s cheap and easy and I don’t have a car, I order most of my books through Amazon. But I realized while wandering around Powell’s in Portland that I miss spending time in bookstores and choosing books sometimes just because their covers strike me. I work in a library, it’s true, and I’m somewhat a minimalist, that’s also true, but for now I still prefer to buy books in paper.
iPad and Wireless Keyboard: I use my iPad for reading, watching videos, and accessing the internet when I’m traveling. I bought a wireless keyboard for it, thinking that I would use it to write, but I still prefer to do most of my writing on my laptop. It’s a really nice thing to have, and I so appreciated having it in Germany, but it doesn’t play a huge role in my day-to-day creative life.
Scrivener: This is a wonderful piece of software that I used to write my first novel. It makes it easy to organize chapters and keep notes (so much better than Word). But, I no longer use it very often, because I do so much writing away from my personal computer and Scrivener does not have a web app. I now use Google Docs for everything I used to use Scrivener for, but I dream of the day that I will either do all of my writing on one computer or Scrivener will make it easy to sync across devices (like Evernote). They claim to be working on an iPad app, so maybe that will change my habits.