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

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social media is becoming essential for small businesses, but it’s a challenge, because it takes time. You can make the most of your time with a little planning, thinking, and finding tools to help you to write faster.

Your blog is the hub of your activities, so if you’re new to social media marketing, and don’t have a blog, set one up now.

Once your blog is set up, you need a smidgen of SEO know-how. Here’s an excellent primer on SEO for Blog Posts; be aware of “long tail” keywords:

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are usually 3 or more words. People who use these keywords usually have a good idea of what they’re looking for. There are also far less people searching these terms overall.

Next, create a list of keywords for your industry. Look at competitors’ blogs – you can usually see which keywords they’re targeting. Also, do a Google.com search for your industry, and look at the keywords people are using for Pay Per Click advertising. (The Google ads on the right side and top of the results pages.)

1. Planning.

Planning’s essential. You plan your business, and your overall marketing, and you need to plan your social media content creation too. If you’re not using Trello, give it a try. It’s an excellent planning tool for blogging and social media.

Start by deciding what results you want from your social media activities. Traffic is good, but conversions are better. Aim for conversions.

2. Thinking.

Planning and thinking go together. Keep your planning documents together, so that you can review your planning once a week, or once a month.

Social media and blogging can’t work in isolation. Integrate them into your business and marketing activities:

Make sure you direct people from social media to your website and make your website client friendly. Make sure you post different ways for people to get a hold of you. A contact us page, online promotions, online forms. Make sure people know who the CEO is and provide bios of your executive team.

3. Writing faster.

Blog writing can be a challenge.

Start by creating a check list for blogging, and as I recommended in that article, use an editorial calendar.

Vital tip: get creative with your writing. You don’t need to be sitting at your computer.

Here’s an Evernote/ Siri dictation strategy I’ve tried, and will be using going forward:

2) Open up a new note and type a quick outline.

Next, you open up a new note and start typing. To stay on point, I outlined what I generally wanted to say in the post before starting.

3) Click the microphone button to begin recording. Then, start speaking!

If you’re using WordPress, try the excellent WordPress Mobile apps. You can blog anywhere you choose. (Now you can blog while waiting for a meeting to start.)

Social media does take time. However, with a little planning, thinking and some tools to help you to write, you can boost your small business, even if you only have a few minutes a day.

 If you need help blogging your small business… contact me.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Stream Your Life in Fetchnotes, Free

Stream Your Life in Fetchnotes, Free
Fetchnotes

What do you do with life’s constant stream of snippets of information: all that stuff you need to remember, or pass on to someone, throughout each day?

Snippets like someone’s name, or a phone number, or a reminder to replace the batteries in your keyboard… Those items of information which aren’t tasks, or appointments, and which are hard to categorize.

They’re not important enough to add to an information store like Evernote, or to your To Do list. They’re ephemeral, like Twitter. And as you might expect, there’s a Twitter-like app to deal with them: Fetchnotes.

I downloaded Fetchnotes because it sounded as if it might be the perfect way to take a quick note on my phone without making a production of it.

Fetchnotes: find and collaborate, with hashtags and mentions

Once I started using it, I was amazed at how perfect it is.

At its simplest, it’s a note-taking app. However, it’s also a way of sending someone a quick message. I find myself referring to Fetchnotes’ tab in the Chrome browser often through the day.

Your snippets are easy to find, either with the search function, or via the tags list. Just as with Twitter, adding a hashtag to a note makes it easy to find.

If you want to send someone a quick message: “pick up some milk on the way home”, or “project completed”, just type “@” plus an address book name, a phone number, or an email address. Your recipient doesn’t even need to be a Fetchnotes user.

Want to attach something to a note? You can attach files, images, anything you like, no matter where the file is stored.

Once you’re done with a note, archive or delete it.

I use Fetchnotes for snippets of information, but you can enter longer notes if you wish. If the muse grabs you, and you want to write a scene from your novel, go ahead. Fetchnotes can handle it.

Fetchnotes is free

Since Fetchnotes is free on popular devices; check it out. You may find it as useful as I do.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

Get Organized and Blog: (Free) Trello Makes It Easy

Get Organized and Blog

Want to make blogging easier? One word: planning. Plan your content, and then collect material for blog posts as you go through your day.

I’ve talked about blog planning before. Trello’s one of my favorite tools for planning various forms of writing. For me, it’s invaluable for plotting novels, as well as for collecting material for nonfiction.

Trello’s especially useful for blogging. If you’re a professional blogger, and blog for others, you’ll bless Trello. You can create a Trello board for each blog, so that you can focus on one blog at a time. And if you blog on the go as I often do, you can check your boards anywhere, on any device – Android, iOS, or Windows 8 Tablet.

Collect the graphics and other materials you want to use

When you’re planning blog posts, you need more than text. These days, graphics are vital, so that your posts stand out. You can drag the images you want to use this week or this month onto separate cards: an image will often provide the seed of a post. Add additional cards for keywords, post descriptions, and title ideas.

Once you’ve collected your materials, posts will almost write themselves.

Trello makes it easy to collaborate with others. After you’ve created a board, you can invite people to share it. They can add cards with information like checklists, assign tasks, and everyone working with a board gets notified of any changes.

Search and (never) destroy

Forgot which board you added a note to? Trello’s search works across all boards, so no matter how many lists and cards you and your co-workers add, you can find what you want easily.

Of course you can keep boards private too. No one else can see your personal boards.

If there’s a mistake – someone removes a list or a card – you can get it out of the archive. Trello is forgiving: you can add, move and remove lists and cards as much as you want to… and get material back if you need it.

Trello is an amazing tool for bloggers. Give it a try. You may find that blogging becomes less of a chore, because Trello will inspire you.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee