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Writers and artists take note: A question to follow…

I just went through the process of pulling together a bunch of disparate gags, quotes, and story notes from a variety of sources. I still have to go through some files on my PC to complete the effort.

Now, I follow the “carry a notebook” philosophy, so that I can always write down ideas or scribblin’s when they come to me. I stole a pen cap from a ballpoint to protect my mechanical pencil nib, so that’s easy enough to carry. The kicker is the notebook: to be pocket size, it has to be small, but because it’s small, I’m forever having to jot my ideas down on Post-its, paper scraps, and whatever else may be around when the notebook is full (or, god forbid, absent). My phone of choice is a “smart phone” with a touch screen, so I can also jot notes directly into it, and it is pretty ubiquitous, but its fidelity is nowhere near as fine as pencil and paper, so I’ve found it not to be my preference.

So, the question: How do you other creative types keep your thoughts in order, and, more importantly, available enough that you can put ‘em to use easily when it’s time to draw from the old idea archive?


  1. elian

    Hi. There are some great applications that could help you including evernotes and e-tipi.com

  2. Chris

    Thanks for the ideas, Elian. I’d heard of Evernote, but not e-tipi. On first blush, I see that Evernote advertises itself as ideal for synching between Web, desktop, and mobile–which sounds good, though I’ll be keen to dig in and see the reality of that. How about e-tipi, Elian? How does it handle mobile platforms? Or is it more for collaborative idea management?

  3. Chris

    You might want to check out STORYVIEW (www.screenplay.com) it is a outline program that has a timeline view where you can post ideas and keep track of what belongs with what. Good luck!

  4. Scraps

    Since I’m frequently in front of the computer I generally just start or open a Google Documents file and make my notes–always in the cloud, that way. The up side to being a chick is I can carry a purse big enough to carry a good-sized notebook for the non-computer times.

  5. Chris

    Good ideas. One of the myriad of places I record notes is a webnote in my Netvibes page, which is similar to your Google Docs idea, Scraps, but with less formatting options :) I wonder if you can edit Google Docs from a browser on a mobile platform.

    I’ll check out Storyview, Chris–thanks! Sounds like it might also be useful for scripting comics and strip arcs.

  6. elian

    e-tipi.com is more for collaborative idea management. But one interesting feature is that one can post your ideas by email, which is quite powerful when on-the-move (you can send emails from all your mobile platforms…)

  7. Chris

    That does sound handy, Elian. Thanks for the insight!

  8. Egypt Urnash

    Sketchbooks. They have hard covers so they don’t fall apart. I can usually flip through them quickly when looking back for one particular thing.

    Piles of index cards are great for working out plot stuff; I have some decks of cards with the bones of future projects in them. One concept to a card, if writing something down gives you a new thought, grab another card. Shuffle ‘em and deal them out and see what connections you get, sort them in different ways…

    I may be an old fart but I generally prefer doing initial work on paper to the computer. It’s too easy to try to run with a half-baked sketch and waste a lot of time and energy.

  9. Chris

    I draw my strip directly in the computer most days, and I’ve been guilty of running with a half-baked sketch more than once… Some unlined index cards and a fat binder clip could be a nice marriage of sketchbook and card deck ideas. (Hipster PDA, anyone?)

  10. Andy

    a little late on this one, but I thought I’d share anyways. A lot of the time I do have a small notebook with me, but sometimes developing pnemonic devices has really helped me out if I should misplace said notebook or be too busy to write anything down.

  11. Chris

    Thanks for the tips, Andy. And welcome!

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