Use This for That: Inspiration Boards with Scapple


Scapple BoardDitch the tacks, stickies, and printer. Scapple is the most renter and environment friendly pin board you’ll ever use.

A lot of people use Scapple (from the fabulous folks who brought you Scrivener) primarily as a digital note board. Though the interface can be clunky, there are myriad options for writing, linking, and organizing your thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been using Scapple for another purpose. Inspiration.

The above is the inspiration board I’ve been using for a chapter set inside the Étoile du Nord. A luxury train that ran from Paris to Amsterdam starting in the 20’s. In the center, you can see that I’ve placed one of Scapple’s famous notes filled with some important info for the scene.  That’s not what I want to focus on. It’s the pictures I use most. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, I’d say they’re good for at least a dozen notes as well.

Photos in Scapple can be resized and layered with ease. They to can be linked and organized using the same tools that apply to notes. One feature, however, stands above the rest in making Scapple so useful for this task, drag and drop.

I know, I know, it’s not a ground breaking technological breakthrough but the ability to drag and dump photos off the web and into a holding tank rather than saving them to the desktop or, more likely, leaving a million tabs open in Chrome, is a life changer.

By utilizing a Scapple board, I no longer have to save link after link. I no longer have to create folders full of photos. I no longer have to click between photo files to view each one individually. The Scapple board let’s me keep them all in one place which means I have all that inspiration available in just one quick glance. Less time searching, more time writing, who wouldn’t like that.


The Troll

I want to start publishing more short fiction on this blog. Not only as a way to foster a habit of production within myself but as a way of sharing more of my ideas with you, my readers.

In that spirit, I’ve placed a new short story in the Writing Samples section of this site. It’s about the dark side of the web. The side that can turn you into someone you never wanted to become. Someone you enjoy being. Someone you crave. Some thing. Enjoy.

The Troll

Writer’s Block and Problem Solving

Some would argue that writer’s block doesn’t exist. That it is simply an excuse used by writers who have struggled to produce work.

There is an oft cited quote on writer’s block from Philip Pullman that speaks to this view. In fact, my friend and fellow writer, KM Alexander, author of the Bell Forging Cycle recently had a post using that very quote and it got me thinking, which for those who know me, is usually a rabbit hole. I definitely fell into this one and thought it might be fun to work up a little rebuttal. Love ya buddy! Anyway, here’s Mr. Pullman’s quote.

“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”

Philip Pullman

Now, I want to agree with this quote. To be honest I almost do but I can’t ignore a fundamental oversight happening within the words. Plumbers and doctors do suffer from their respective blocks. They aren’t referred to as blocks yet they exist. All of these “blocks,” writer, doctor, plumber or otherwise, are simply puzzles that need a solution.

All forms of labor, thought, and creation come with difficulties. All forms of work come with problems that must be solved before one can move on. Problems that take time to solve.

Mr. Pullman is spot on when he points out that it is ridiculous for writing to have its own special name for and to expect sympathy for the puzzles inherent in the work. It’s childish. Even so, what happens if we strip away the silly name and the need for pity? Continue reading