I should know by now that I like to switch things up. My blog is named after my tendency to flit, after all.
For years, I’ve kept paper journals. Lined paper books that I write in with pens. I started out with pretty journals, some with leather covers, or with Japanese wood block art. After a while, I transitioned to 59¢ composition notebooks: they’re less expensive, I felt freer to dump my brain into them, they stack better, and they take up less room on a book shelf.
Recently, though, as I think about spending significant time in a much smaller space, potentially the size of a boat cabin, I am working to minimize physical stuff. I want to have fewer things, and I want the things I possess to be high quality and contain multitudes. For example, do I want 30 square feet of physical books weighing who knows how many pounds, or do I want hundreds of books in a single 7 ounce device I can carry in my hand?
Likewise, do I want shelves and shelves of handwritten journals that I’ll never look at again? And that when I do want pull paragraphs from, I have to first find them, then transcribe them to my computer? Or do I want to go directly to my computer, a single device that contains it all and eliminates the step of having to move words from paper to screen?
I’ve experimented lately with writing a diary directly on my computer. I love it — no mess, no bulk, no regret that I wasted a tree for something I’ll likely never look at again, and it’s searchable.
I haven’t been doing any creative writing, though. That’s what I used to use my paper and pen for. I’d use my prompt box, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, or Priscilla Long’s Writer’s Portable Mentor to get me started, and then I’d either write from the prompt or work on an exercise from one of those writing books.
It occurred to me the other day that there must be an app out there to help get writers started. What I really wanted was all of the Writing Down the Bones and Writer’s Portable Mentor exercises in an easy “tap to pull a random writing exercise” type of app, but I didn’t find one of those.
What I did find, though, was a mobile app called Prompts. I’ve been using it for a few days, and it’s mostly doing what I want. It is lightweight and straightforward — I don’t have to read instructions to learn how to use it, I just tap the + button in the app and it opens an editor with a prompt at the beginning, like “I crave.” What I love about the prompts is that they aren’t just objects like most of the prompts in my prompt box were. Instead, they are thought-provoking:
- Without the Internet
- Life is about
- I wonder what would happen
The one thing I don’t like is that the app is mobile only, and I detest typing on my phone. I have a small phone, and I don’t want a larger one. So I’ll often read the prompt from my phone at writing time, and then do the actual typing on my computer.
That being said, when I sat in the competition pool bleachers yesterday for 5 hours, I got bored, opened the app, and wrote. So I guess it’s doing its job :-).