How to generate, capture, and collect ideas to realize creative projects.


“Oh, du weißes Blatt, inspirier’ mich … oder besser nicht!” — Wissenschaftliches und fiktionales Schreiben ohne Inspiration (aber mit Inhalts-Outlines, Scrivener, u.v.m.)

I’m afraid of coaching, of writer’s classes, of writer’s magazines, of books on how to write. They give me ‘centipede trouble’ — you know the yarn about the centipede who was asked how he managed all his feet? He tried to answer, stopped to think about it, and was never able to walk another step.
Robert A. Heinlein

[The following text is written in German. It's about a 32-page text I have written about scientific and fictional writing, using Content-Outlines and Scrivener. Given that this is -- more or less -- the script to a presentation I did about the topic, the presentation was in German, and I have already written about these issues in the scientific work series and in my book, I do this posting in German.]

Das Vortragsmanuskript von “Oh, du weißes Blatt, inspirier’ mich … oder besser nicht! Methoden und Werkzeuge zum Schreiben” vom 23. Juli ist endlich fertig — zumindest der erste Entwurf.

Der Teaser ist:

Wenn man einen umfangreichen Text schreiben möchte — oder muss — steht man häufig wie der Ochs vorm Berg. Man hat Theorien, Hypothesen, Ideen, Daten, Auswertungen, Interpretationen — aber wie bekommt man diese Informationen in einen kohärenten Text? Wie stellt man die Beziehungen und Relationen innerhalb dieser Elemente her um einen Text zu schreiben, der sich gut liest.
Einige Personen hoffen hier auf Inspiration — häufig vergeblich und unnötig. Schreiben, v.a. wissenschaftliches Schreiben, ist ein Handwerk und keine Kunst, und es gibt bessere Methoden die/den/das Bachelor-/Master-/Diplomarbeit/Dissertation/Artikel/Buch/Novelle/was-auch-immer zu schreiben, als Word zu starten und auf Inspiration zu hoffen.
In diesem Text werden einige Methoden vorgestellt, die das Schreiben einfacher machen. Der Fokus liegt auf dem Umgang mit Literatur und Quellen, das Erstellen von Inhalts-Outlines (die Knochen des Textes), und die Verwendung von Programmen, die besser sind als Word. Primär geht es um wissenschaftliche Texte, wobei auch für alle anderen Arten von Texten einiges dabei ist.

Das Skript ist etwas lang geworden (32 pages, about 17k words), aber vielleicht trotzdem lesbar. Ich hoffe, ich habe die Tage nochmals Zeit, in Ruhe drüber zu sehen.


Einfach auf das Bild klicken oder auf den Link hier, um die Entwurfsfassung runterzuladen.

Da es um das Schreiben mit Inhalts-Outlines geht, habe ich mich entschieden — zur Veranschaulichung — auch das Inhalts-Outline selbst online zu setzen (Circus Ponies Notebook Datei exportiert als HTML Datei — braucht einen Moment, ist ca. 1 MB — das erlaubt einem zumindest das aus- und einklappen), sowie die Scrivener-Datei (gezipped, klingt jetzt vielleicht nicht so interessant, aber man sehen was sich von der ersten zur zweiten Version verändert hat). Ich hoffe, ich hab keine Leichen übersehen (hmm, nicht sicher, mal schauen). Aber um zu verstehen, wie man mit Inhalts-Outlines schreiben kann, ist es vielleicht ganz interessant die Knochen und das Rewriting dieses Textes zu sehen. BTW, die letztendliche Formatierung lief mit InDesign.

Generell freue ich mich über Feedback. Die eMail-Adresse ist in der PDF. Ihr könnt die PDF gerne weiter verbreiten — sofern das kostenlos passiert und das Dokument nicht verändert wird. :-) Mir hätte es zu Beginn (und gerade gegen Ende) meines Studiums extrem geholfen. So ‘ne umfangreiche Arbeit zu schreiben … holla, war nicht einfach. Also, wenn man’s gut findet, wieso nicht anderen helfen es etwas einfacher zu haben? :-)


Happy Birthday “Organizing Creativity” 2!

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint … . What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
Henry David Thoreau

It’s been exactly a year since I made the second edition of “Organizing Creativity” available.

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

Organizing Creativity 2I wanted it to be read, so I made the double-page (spread) version available for “free” (donationware), and it seemed to have worked. More than 9800 people visited the download page in the last year and Google Analytics counts over 1800 downloads (I guess it misses some, tracking PDF downloads are a little difficult). There were also some great comments, public on Amazon, and private per eMail, — very encouraging and helpful :-)

Not bad for a just-for-fun project. :-)

Regarding the donationware aspect — if the reader finds it helpful there are some ways to give me money for itthis did not work that well. Only a few people bought the book as print version or the high-quality PDF version. Still, I am even more thankful to those people who bought it. I didn’t do it for the money, but it’s still nice that the work is appreciated. After all, feedback is the life-blood of an author and money is actually as honest as feedback can get. I am also very grateful to Dylan Damian and others who offered proof-reading. It helped a lot :-)

To celebrate it’s first birthday, I have decided to make the single-page version available for “free” (also donationware). But note that the graphics are still downscaled — the PDF is great for viewing on a tablet, but not for printing. I need to leave a difference to the single-page version at Lulu.

1 page download Organizing Creativity PDF single-page version — ideal for iPad and other tablets that can display PDF files.1 page download PDF

2 page download Organizing Creativity PDF double-page version — good if you want to read it on your computer monitor or print it with two “pages” per page (although if you want to read it on paper, buying a printed version of the book is probably easier).2 page download PDF

Hope you like it. If you like the book and want to return the favor without paying something, recommend the book in your social networks. Perhaps your contacts like it too.

Thanks :-)


Learning about Work Methods for Doing Scientific Work

McClary was an expert in writing long, complex programs in C. His method was to take a few days to absorb the design, plot out his approach carefully, and then implement his plan in a long stretch of sustained concentration. According to his colleagues, McClary took about three times as long as most programmers to come up with a first version – but his first try usually worked.
Source unknown

Work methods — especially related to doing creative work — are a long-time interest of mine. On Friday, I had the opportunity to do a workshop about work methods in science — a very difficult area of creative work. The focus was not on ‘the scientific method’ or statistical procedures, but on how they deal with other people (advisers, colleagues, etc.), finding topics, time and task management, finding, reading and managing literature, handling the writing and publishing process, etc.

I was interested in doing a workshop mostly Read More


Book now proof-read :-)

“Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.”

A short while after I made the second version of “Organizing Creativity” available, Dylan Damian contacted me and offered to proof-read the book. It was a nice moment — people have called me strange (or stupid) for offering something  for free I worked on for months (years, actually), but I believe that when something is useful and you burn for it, you should make it available. And given that I never intended to earn money with it, why not offer it in a donationware format. If you like it, you pay what you like, if you do not like it, you should not pay for it.

But frankly, I would have never thought that Read More


Versions for eBook Reader

During the last few days I had a look at the ePub format — the format to go if you want to offer something on an eBook reader. It looks to me like we are back at webdesign-square-one — only now it’s not a battle between Netscape, Explorer, and Opera, but between different hardware devices.

After some interesting (and time-wasting) experiences with InDesign and its (lack of) ability to help you create ePub files (it can, but you need to edit them manually afterwards), I think the ePub version will take at least two weeks.

What bugs me is not only that ePub makes it Read More


“Organizing Creativity” (2nd Edition) is available!

There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”
Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

Note: This is a sticky posting that stays on top of the blog for a while.

The second edition of Organizing Creativity is finally available:

oc2coverClick on the image to download the PDF file (about 10 MB — note that the images are downscaled to save some bandwidth)

Read More


Release Date for Organizing Creativity II: Sunday, March, 25, 2012.

“Writing a book is an adventure: to begin with it is a toy and amusement; then it becomes a master, and than it becomes a tyrant; and the last phase is just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude – you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
Winston Churchill

I am currently doing the “finishing touches” on the second edition of “Organizing Creativity”. It will be available on this site on Sunday (fingers crossed! ;-)).

All in all, I am very happy about the second edition. It took a huge chunk of time, but I think it was worth it (and I am very, very happy when the work is done).

It currently looks like this: Read More


Interesting Discussion going on about Thesis Writing

“I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t have to remember.”
Professor Henry Jones, about why he and his son need to go into the lion’s den to save his diary, in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

I’m currently preparing a presentation for a student group about organizing an academic work (focus is on a dissertation thesis, but it can be applied to any major written work). Interestingly, there are currently a few questions about establishing academic work flow, esp. regarding storing citations. The discussion is going on in the posting about Circus Ponies Notebook for Academic Writing (e.g., Thesis Writing).

If you have ideas I’d like to hear them — how do you manage your sources?


PostDoc RoadMap

roadmap_postdoc_smNearly finishing my PhD thesis (hopefully), I have started planning my post-doc phase. After some playing around with Apple’s Pages and being inspired by a Pentax Lenses Roadmap, I used InDesign to create a sheet, where I wrote down the studies I have planned, the papers I want to write, the products I want to create, etc.

InDesign works extremely well for this — I have used Read More


iPhone Design with Pages or InDesign

ipod-iphone-design_pages_600An important skill in being creative is sketching. But what if you cannot sketch? Or what if you are past sketching and need to see a mock-up to assess whether the planned project works out or not?

Currently I’m learning iPhone/iPod touch programming (X-code, Objective-C) and I have to design interfaces for the applications I want to program. While I could sketch them with pen and paper, the small screen and the thus rare screen real estate allows only small margins for errors. So, if I want to see whether everything fits or not I need something better than sketches. I spend a few hours on shaping my tools and used first Pages, and now InDesign, to create templates for iPhone/iPod touch designs.

Luckily, there are some Read More