7 Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired to Create

7 Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired to Create

Today, everyone needs to be creative. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or marketer – you need to create. Inspiration makes creativity easier, so when a writing student asked me about apps for inspiration, it made me think about the apps I use. Can apps help you to become inspired?

Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired on Demand

Can you demand inspiration from yourself? I doubt it. If you try to force inspiration, you’ll choke. However, you can create the right conditions for inspiration to land on you – like the blue bird of happiness. :-)

I’ve come up with seven apps I use which help me to get inspired more or less on demand. The apps create the conditions in which you’re likely to become inspired. They’re in no particular order.

1. Evernote: Your External Brain – and Inspiration

I’ve been using Evernote since 2009. Over the past five years, Evernote has become more and more important to me. I especially like the Related Notes feature. When you start writing a note, Evernote offers you “related notes”. Occasionally, especially if you have lots of notes, Evernote will bring a real gem to the surface, which inspires you.

Most of my thinking happens in Evernote, simply because it’s always available both on my computer and phone. I snap images with the Evernote camera, send handwritten notes from Livescribe (more on Livescribe in a moment) and Penultimtate to Evernote, and record audio notes.

If I want to get inspired, I create a note in Evernote, and start searching and browsing. I write a lot of content, for my clients’ books and blogs, and my own. I wouldn’t be half as creative or productive without Evernote.

2. Penultimate: Take Handwritten Notes on Your iPad

Evernote bought Penultimate, so all your handwritten notes and sketches transfer to Evernote automatically, as soon as you create them.

3. Livescribe Desktop (Requires Livescribe Pen)

Much as I love computers, nothing replaces handwriting for inspiration. I’ve been using Livescribe pens for several years.

Originally, I bought the pens for interviews. It’s wonderful to be able to take notes, and record an interview at the same time, then play back ONLY what you need to hear. It saves transcribing, which takes time, both uploading audio, and then waiting for the transcription to come back.

Over time, I started to use the Livescribe pens and Livescribe Desktop to plan, take notes, and create initial drafts of my writing. You can send any Livescribe page to Evernote.

4. Tinderbox (Mac): Automatic Organization for Your Inspirations

The more you put into Tinderbox, the more inspiration you can draw from it. For me, the app works much like Evernote. I stuff material in, and related material pops out, firing my inspiration.

5. Scapple: the Endless Canvas for Ideas

I adore Scrivener, and have used it for years. Recently Literature and Latte released Scapple. It’s the perfect companion for Scrivener, and wonderfully inspiring.

The app gives you an endless canvas. If you’re stuck on something, start writing notes on Scapple, letting your mind drift, and make associations. Before you know it, you’re inspired.

6. Drafts (iOS): Grab Inspiration as It Flies Past

Have you noticed that inspiration usually strikes when you’re in the middle of doing something else? This is where Drafts comes in handy. Jot a few notes, and go back to what you were doing.

I used to jot notes on sticky notes, and on text notes. Invariably, I’d lose them. A week or two later, I’d remember that I wrote down something brilliant for Project X. I’d spend the next 15 minutes searching the piles of material on my desk, the notebooks on my shelves, and my computer. Then my devices. Could I find it? NO. Since I couldn’t remember what the heck it was, I had no search terms to search on.

After I discovered Drafts, it became my automatic scratch pad. Whenever I’m in the middle of something, and get inspired, I tap a few notes into Drafts. Later, I send the notes to Evernote, Dropbox, or email.

7. PicMonkey: Get Inspired With Images

I’m a writer, not a designer. Since I started to use PicMonkey I’ve found that it’s perfect not only to create images for blog posts and social media, you can use it to get inspired too.

Often I’ll start with a blank canvas on PicMonkey, and start doodling. Or I’ll drop an image onto PicMonkey, and start playing with it. Within five to ten minutes, I’ve been inspired. Try it yourself – it’s free.

So, there we have it. Seven apps for inspiration.

A tip: apps like Evernote and Tinderbox become truly inspirational once you’ve packed material into them. So stuff material in. Don’t worry too much about organization. Inspiration often happens with serendipity. :-)

The Easy-Write Process: Get Inspired on Demand

Want to get inspired on demand? It’s essential in 2014. The Easy-Write Process will help. It’s especially useful if you’re ruled by your inner editor, or tend to procrastinate.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Bluebird image credit

Writing Coach: Instant Coaching (Time-Limited Offering)

writing coach

These days everyone from sports people to business people has a coach. Writers benefit from coaching too. A writing coach can help you with your writing challenges, whatever they may be.

I work with writers every day, and until August 3, you can try out coaching very quickly with our offering for “instant coaching.”

Your challenges: writing, selling your writing, marketing, or … ?

I discussed two of my writing students in yesterday’s article on less stress:

I’ve just been chatting with a writing student who thinks that his writing is going too slowly. He’s written the first draft of a nonfiction book, and is frustrated because he thinks he should be moving through the revision more quickly.

Sadly, he’s lost perspective. In the time we’ve been working together, not only has he planned and written an ebook, he’s planning another one. That’s huge progress.

Writing coaching can help

If you can articulate your challenge, coaching can help. Indeed coaching can prevent disaster. One of my students was ready to delete all the files related to a book she’d worked on for three years. I managed to convince her that such drastic action wasn’t necessary. She’s completed a proposal for her book, and we’re shopping it around literary agents.

Another student wanted to develop a money-making blog, but because there were so many large “authority” blogs in her niche, she’d was intimidated. She felt that her blog would struggle: how could she compete?

We decided that she wouldn’t try to compete. She’d be herself. She has a lot to offer, and all that was needed was for her to acknowledge that. I knew her story was impressive, and I could see her getting media interviews and attention. All she needed was someone to believe in her, and help her to develop a plan for her new blog.

Writing coaching helps you to gain perspective. It also offers solutions.

Our new Instant Coaching program is not only fast and powerful, it’s also guaranteed. Take advantage of the offering, it ends on August 3.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Less Stress: Focus On The NOW

Less Stress: Focus On The NOW

Want less stress, instantly? Here you go. Focus on NOW. Right now. Not tomorrow, or next month or year, or even ten minutes from now.

I’ve found this to be an incredibly useful strategy whenever I feel stressed, and it’s a strategy I teach to my students. You may be thinking that it’s a “very zen” strategy. It’s not zen… To be truly zen, you wouldn’t be thinking at all, but I digress. :-)

It’s VERY hard to stay in the present moment. It helps to have a plan, execute it, and then review at a future date. Once you’ve created the plan, and are executing the plan, just stay in the moment.

Less stress: plan, execute, and review

Once you’ve created your plan, don’t second-guess yourself. Or think too much.

I’ve just been chatting with a writing student who thinks that his writing is going too slowly. He’s written the first draft of a nonfiction book, and is frustrated because he thinks he should be moving through the revision more quickly.

Sadly, he’s lost perspective. In the time we’ve been working together, not only has he planned and written an ebook, he’s planning another one. That’s huge progress.

I suggested that he get a timer, then work at his revision for two or three 25 minute sessions each day. When he’s not working, he should forget about the book, and let his subconscious deal with it.

Another student has just self published an ebook to Amazon. It’s a novella, and he’s priced it at $2.99.  This novella is a prequel to the novel which he published a couple of months ago.

We’d worked out a publishing plan:

  • Publish the novella;
  • Get the next novel written;
  • Make the novella permanently free a month before the second novel is published.

All three ebooks are part of a series, so the novella should work as a marketing tactic for the series. WILL it work? I don’t know. No one knows.

Here’s what I know for sure. If he gets all three ebooks onto Amazon, and the novella is permanently free, he’ll make sales.

We talked about Julie Smith’s publishing company, and that if you’re a self publishing author, you’re a publisher too. Keep it in mind; be business-like in your self publishing business. :-)

Your plan lets you relax: once you’ve created a plan, DON’T change it

When you have a plan, you know where you’re headed. Of course you can change a plan as necessary, but don’t  be too eager to do that.

Your plan is for you. It ensures that you have less stress, so that you can be productive. After a while, you’ll become focused on NOW, doing what you should be doing in the present moment. You’ll worry less, because you know you have a plan.

Try it. Create a plan for a project that’s worrying you. It can be any project in any area of your life, small or large. Then just start working your plan. When you’re distracted, remind yourself to stay focused on the present moment.

It makes for less stress.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Gmail Tips and Tricks: More Email Addresses FAST

Let’s look at some very clever Gmail tips and tricks. These are all new to me, and I’ve been using Gmail forever, so I hope they’re of use to you as well.

Gmail Tips and Tricks: More Email Addresses FAST

You’ve got to hand it to Google, because compared to other email services, Gmail is a wonder. I have many email addresses, and I forward everything to Gmail, because it weeds out the spam so well.

While forwarding usually works brilliantly, there’s the occasional email which goes astray. These tricks fix that problem.

Gmail tips and tricks: sort your email by multiple Gmail addresses

Did you know you can create as many email addresses as you need?

From How to Use the Infinite Number of Email Addresses Gmail Gives You:

… you can add a plus sign and any word before the @ sign (e.g. johnsmith+hello@gmail.com) and messages will still reach you. If these tweaks make no difference, then why use them? One major reason: filters.

Gmail’s labels and its filtering work, but they need a little help. Signing up for regular mailings with a special Gmail address means that you can filter your email more efficiently.

I especially like David Nield’s idea of creating a Gmail address for your To Do list, by adding “+todo” to the email address before the “@”. I always find myself emailing tasks to myself while I’m out and about, so that’s very useful — I can now filter out my To Dos from the rest of my email.

Gmail tips and tricks: get fancy with images

From Daniel Futerman:

» Drag & Drop images into message body to insert as inline image.
» Copy / Paste images into message to insert as inline images.
» Drag images to the bottom message bar to add as attachments.

I had no idea you could do that. :-)

A Gmail trick to avoid a disaster: stop that email!

I thought that once you sent an email message, you were done. Not so. If you make a mistake and want to stop an email message, you can.

From Jill Duffy:

If you’ve never noticed the Undo Sent Message feature before, that’s because it’s not enabled by default. You have to turn it on (and you should know that it comes with some caveats, which I’ll explain in a moment), and the way to get to it is through Gmail Labs.

It’s worth enabling this feature. :-)
photo credit: opacity via photopin cc
, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Ebook Publishing: Author To Publisher

booksBnimble

Considering ebook publishing? It’s taking off. Keep in mind that if you’re a self publishing author, you’re a publisher too.

I’ve long been a fan of mystery novelist Julie Smith. Her books are engaging, and enjoyable reads. These days, Julie Smith is also an ebook publisher at booksBnimble.

According to this article, she invested $50,000 in her publishing business, which is growing steadily:

At first, the sales trickled in. Four or five in one week. Four or five in a day. As she added more authors, she also acquired the rights to her backlist, renewing sales of her own novels.

Interest in the company’s roster swelled: 2,700 copies sold in 2011, 17,900 sold in 2012, and 98,800 sold last year, according to figures provided by Smith.

Which goes to show, in ebook publishing, as with any business, you need to be patient and wait for the business to grow.

By the way, if you write mystery novels, Julie is currently accepting submissions.

I love this book guarantee on their About page: “We’ll give you your money back if you find as many as five errors. (That’s five verified errors–punctuation or spelling that leaves no room for judgment calls or alternatives.)”

Ebook publishing: if you’re an ebook author, you’re a publisher too

Self publishing authors can learn a lot from Julie Smith’s commitment to quality. All books need editors, and that includes self published books. Can’t afford professional editing? You can always trade editing tasks with a fellow author, if money’s tight.

You can also take to heart that you’re running a business, and as you can see from booksBnimble, businesses take time to grow. That doesn’t mean you need to rush and self publish your ebooks before they’re ready. However, the more ebooks you have available, the more you will sell.

Some readers will buy everything you write. I’m very much like that — if I enjoy an author, I’ll buy every book on Amazon.

It makes me laugh when I read that “too many books” are being published. As a voracious reader, who reads around ten books a week, I know that’s nonsense. Readers know what they enjoy, and are always looking for new authors they can glom onto.

Julie Smith is an inspiration. However, no matter how much success she achieves as  a publisher, I hope she continues to write her mystery novels.
, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Quotes: How to Avoid Writing Blocks

Here’s one of my favorite writing quotes from poet and writing teacher William Stafford:

“I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance… One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write.

“You shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing… It really doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.”

writing quotes: stafford

Do you save writing quotes?

I keep a collection of writing quotes for inspiration, and the above quote by William Stafford is one of my favorites. It’s helpful if you’re judgmental of your writing.

Of course you need to judge and edit your writing, but never while you’re writing. If you judge as you’re writing, you’ll choke, and you’ll think that writing is hard.

How to avoid judging your writing while you’re writing…

I’ve found these strategies useful.

  • Pre-write. Create clusters, or mind maps before you start writing;
  • Set a goal for your writing, in writing. Write about what you want to achieve in a couple of sentences. Example: “In this scene, I want to introduce the prime suspect. Our detective realizes that he’s lying about where he was on the night of the murder.”
  • Write. Accept what you’re writing. Writing is always a partnership between your subconscious and your conscious mind. Your subconscious leads, so writing is always discovery. No judging. :-)
  • Once you’ve finished writing, you can read what you’ve written, but don’t start editing immediately. Leave your writing for a few hours if you can.

I agree with Stafford that common writing blocks occur because we’re trying to hit an imaginary standard. (Blocks may also occur if we’re stressed, or unwell.)

As he suggests, lower your standards. You’ll be surprised at how much easier your writing becomes. And you’ll be even more surprised when you meet your own standards, and have fun with your writing. When I’m coaching my writing students, we do lots of exercises so that they train themselves to write easily, without judging.

Here are some writing exercises you can try. They work.

Tip: if you find you’re blocked, you may find my Easy Write Process program useful. It includes lots of exercises.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Success: How to Avoid It

Writing Success: How to Avoid It

Writing success: every writer wants it, but some actively avoid it. I work with writers every day, and here’s how the avoidance scenario plays out. A writer tells me about a new project. He’s excited. I’m excited too. We discuss it, then the writer gets to work.

A couple of weeks, or a month later, I ask the writer about the project, and he’s “thinking” about it. Uh oh. We talk about the one big secret of writing — writing, not thinking — and the writer’s enthusiastic again.

Time passes. The writer contacts me to ask me about something else. I resist the temptation to bang my forehead against my desk. No, I don’t yell at him: What about PROJECT X? I know what happened. Project X is dead, dead, dead.

If you don’t create it, it won’t succeed.

No one is guaranteed success, but you can actively avoid success if you lose heart and inspiration and don’t create.

From Beck Gives Us A Lesson In The Arc Of Content Marketing in Forbes:

Beck took a chance with the content. He didn’t focus group it. He just released it and waited to see what happened. His “research” was the world’s actual reaction. We could all stand to be this bold with our content marketing.

If the idea is great, it will be discovered.

No one can guarantee your success. Before Amazon launched the Kindle, authors got used to rejections. It wasn’t uncommon for an author to write ten books, and have each one rejected… until one was accepted. Then, over time, all her rejected books were published.

Time is always a writer’s best friend, as long as you keep writing.

These days, no author needs to fear rejection. You write a book, self publish it, and keep writing. You don’t know what will happen; you don’t need to know. That book may never be successful. It may never sell more than a few copies. But if you keep writing, you increase your chances of success.

Writing success: if your writing doesn’t succeed, keep writing.

Writers get fixated on projects. A project becomes all-important. So important, that to avoid failure, they let the project die.

Why not do as Beck did? Publish. See what happens. If you keep writing, you won’t obsess. Some years ago I had a multi-book contract with a publisher. One day I was lunching with my editor, who was worried about another book coming out on a similar topic to the one I was working on. I shrugged and said: “it’s just a book.”

My book came out, and sold well for a few years. I didn’t pay much attention, because I was working on other books.

Are you avoiding writing success by not finishing projects? Ask yourself this question…

What will happen if you succeed?

Your life won’t change with success. You’ll still write every day. If you focus on the process — writing — rather than success or failure, you’ll increase your chances of success. So keep writing. :-)

If you’re avoiding writing success, check out the Easy Write Process.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Content Marketing With Ebooks: Leads From Freebies

Content Marketing With Ebooks: Leads From Freebies

A couple of years ago, you could blog, and get traffic. Then everyone caught on that blogs can give you an amazing return on the time and energy you invest. Today, almost four MILLION blog posts are published each day. Why not consider content marketing with ebooks, either in addition to your blog, or instead of regular blogging?

You’ll have less competition… for now, anyway. :-)

Content marketing with ebooks has been around for years of course. You create a PDF, and offer it as a free download, usually in exchange for a sign-up to a list.

Here’s a new wrinkle on that strategy. Consider converting your ebooks to MOBI (Kindle) or EPUB formula, so that your prospects can read on their ereader device, or ereader apps on their phone or tablet.

I’ve been creating MOBI ebooks for clients, and they report that subscriptions and conversions have increased.

How to Create a MOBI or EPUB Ebook From a Document.

Do you use Scrivener? In Scrivener, you simply compile the Scrivener document in MOBI format in a couple of seconds. EPUB format is just as quick.

Whatever document format you start with however, cloudconvert will convert it into MOBI and EPUB. cloudconvert is currently in beta, and promises to convert anything to anything: it supports 199 formats.

Content Marketing With Ebooks: 3 Tips.

Here are some tips which will help you to get the most from your ebooks.

1. Keep It Simple for MOBI and EPUB.

Yes, you can add loads of tables, graphics and other material, however your conversions will need to be done manually to get the best results. If you’re using a document converter, keep it simple. If you have tables you MUST include, do a trial conversion, and edit it carefully.

2. Give Your Website Visitors a Choice, Offer PDF Too.

PDF is still the de facto ebook standard for many people, and others prefer to read on their computer, so offer PDF as well as MOBI and EPUB.

3. Give “How to Read” Instructions.

Instructions are essential to help your downloaders to get your marketing material onto their device.

Amazon’s Send to Kindle is the easiest way to get many different kinds of documents onto any device.

It’s easy to get EPUB documents into iBooks on an iPhone or iPad:

First of all, open up your email client on the Mac. You can do this with any app or webmail program. Address an email to yourself, and attach the epub file you want to open on your iPad or iPhone. Send yourself the attachment, and then go grab your iOS device.

Now, open your preferred email program on your iPad or iPhone, and open up the email you just sent yourself. Tap the attachment icon to download it to your device, and you’ll see the icon turn into an iBooks one. Tap and hold on the file and an “Open in iBooks” will pop up. Tap that, and your iPad or iPhone will open iBooks and then open the epub file you just sent.

If you haven’t considered content marketing with ebooks, give it a try. Your customers will appreciate being able to read your ebooks when and where they choose.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Pinterest Traffic: Start Pinning

Pinterest Traffic: Start Pinning

Are you missing out on Pinterest traffic? Chances are that you are.  One of my clients was curious about a sudden flow of traffic from Pinterest, and called me. I’d been encouraging him to try Pinterest for at least a year, but he’d taken a look at the site, and had decided it wasn’t for him.

Then he got traffic from kind people who pinned his products, and he’s now decided that Pinterest should be part of his social media marketing endeavors.

Pinterest Traffic: Get images, and a Pinterest account

Here’s what I love about Pinterest: your pins are long-lasting. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, your pins don’t have a shelf-life which is measured in minutes. You can get traffic from stuff you pinned months ago.

If you’d like to get started with Pinterest, start by looking at the images on your offerings. If you don’t have images, create some.

This doesn’t need to be a major investment. One of my client has a B2B website offering services. He’d never considered images. We developed some templates with placeholder images  with the help of a designer. He can take photos himself, then drag them into the templates, save, and upload them in a couple of minutes.

Once you’ve created some images, get a Pinterest business account. Create a couple of boards for your business. Make one board business-related, and the other fun – Pinterest is a social media network. Some ideas:

Create Pinterest boards with specific questions your website’s visitors have, or around a specific theme. For example, if you have an online business selling accessories, create boards for each kind of accessory, and for your designers too. Check out what major brands are doing. Keep your boards light-hearted.

Give Pinterest a try. You may be surprised at how effective it can be as an additional source of traffic to your website.
, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.