I have two Moleskine notebooks which I guard and love like children. One is the classic pocket-size that I use for everyday notes, passing thoughts, or writing ideas. The other is a larger, journal-size version in which I keep my more formal creative writing. I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world: they are perfect for my purposes and their simple, elegant design is completely inspiring.
I could say the same for my iPod Touch. In the short time I’ve had it, it’s become an indispensable little gadget. It functions as an mp3 player, game console, remote control, netbook, and much more. As the Moleskine notebook is to writing, so is the iPod Touch (or iPhone) to portable computing.
Up until now, incorporating the two into my already gadget-ridden life hasn’t been a problem. That is, until Touch Poet came along. This fantastic little iPhone app has thrown my conception of what each of my devices is for out the window. Until then, the iPod was the information aggregator: it answered e-mails, looked up words, updated Twitter, and checked my calendar events. The Moleskines were the creativity engines: they expressed my individuality, explored my own brand of poetry, and generally helped me take a break from the hustle and bustle. But Touch Poet made things altogether different. This app allowed me to create little mini poems from words that were brought in from all corners of the internet. Take a look:
Granted, the phrases I have up there don’t really constitute poetry, but you get the idea. Words are generated from various news sources, your own e-mail accounts, the works of Shakespeare, Poe, and Kipling, and social bookmarking site Digg. You take those words and arrange them in any way you like. It’s a simple concept, and a very nice looking app. It even lets you post your final poem to Twitter, which is the most thoughtful feature.
So why did this throw my creative life into (slightly exaggerated) disarray? Because beyond the initial fun of it, I actually found Touch Poet to be very useful to my creative process. I started to use the app to find useful phrases that then got incorporated into my larger work. I wound up with two competing devices, both serving my creativity, to and from which I spent a great deal of my time transcribing.
As you know, oftentimes writing is about rhythm, both structured and unstructured. At first I found that the cacophony of these devices working against one another was interrupting this rhythm, and I felt a strong urge to get rid of one or the other. With time, though, and even as I’m writing this post, a new rhythm is emerging. There’s a great partnership to be had between the high tech and the low tech, and slowly but surely I’m learning to balance my time. Until then, I’ll keep writing with my iPod in one hand and my Moleskine in the other. After all, the important thing is that we all keep writing.