I have an awful memory. Well, that’s not true. I have an awsome long-term memory, my short-term memory however, is rubbish, as is my ability to make information pass from my short-term memory into my long-term memory. This, for someone attempting to be creative is a bit of a bind. You see, like most people, a lot of my creative processing is done offline: wandering the streets, driving the car etc. I’m sure we’ve all been victim of the “I had this great idea while I was in the doctor’s but I forgot it before I could find a pen” scenario. It happens to me all the time. Rarely do I go anywhere now without a notebook in my pocket. I have various notebooks for different things, I even carry a small book of manuscript paper around, in case a tune pops into my head.
The big issue though, is what I do with all of these notes and information, often conflicting backstory or character arcs or names for places or people I’ve used elsewhere. Well, I decided I needed somewhere to collate all of this information into timelines and character profiles etc. I shied away from yet-another-notebook because I want to have to info available to hand all the time, without having to lug around a book. I tend to write when I’m on trains or in a coffee shop rather than actually sitting down at home and doing it. Works for me. I’ve also been using a piece of software called Scrivener to actually construct drafts. It has plenty of scope for keeping this grimoire of information within. However, sometimes I might want to add to it when I don’t have my laptop handy.
So what do I do? And then it came to me, I have my smartphone with me all the time. As a 21st century, new-age, modern guy-type of dude, it has become an extension of my soul, to part with it would cleave me in twain. So, I set up a LAMP server at home and installed MediaWiki. Now I have my own private wiki, with much the same functionality and layout as wikipedia. What this means is I can easily structure my info, in a simple, user-friendly mark-up language that takes five minutes to learn. I can create templates for character sheets, groupd people and places and events together, reference stuff from other stuff, anything I can think of really. The only thing it doesn’t really do is timelining and mind-mapping, but that’s not really in the scope of what I wanted anyway. It means I’ve got the world I’ve built easily to hand anywhere I’ve got mobile signal, and I can add to it and refer to it whenever something pops into my head (well, except when I’m driving, haven’t worked that one out yet). You can also use it to store lists of links used in research etc.
Sounds very technical I know, but if you have webspace with a service provider, most of them have auto-install scripts for this sort of thing, and if not there are a bunch of companies that host something similar. If you want a look at what I’ve done, give me a shout via email and I’ll show you what I’ve done. Also, if anyone wants any help, I can offer what limited knowledge I have.