An incandescent light bulb.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Tablet and smartphone apps can provide a big boost to creativity, if you know where to look.

The creative process is often hampered by the more mundane elements of organization and initial inspiration, which is where we can turn to technology for a helping hand. These are five ways in which we find applications on the devices we carry to aid creativity:

  1. Inspiration
  2. Research
  3. Memory Aid
  4. Storage
  5. Opinions

Let’s briefly break each of those down and add a few recommendations.

Inspiration

All artists hit a creative block now and again, at which point any number of techniques are offered up to get the work flowing once again. Getting out into the world is certainly one idea, but if that comes up short then you can still reach for your mobile device! Browsing the millions of photographs on Flickr or Instagram is a great way to find visual inspiration, where as music discovery on platforms like Pandora or Songza¬†could offer up that crucial melody that you’ve been missing.

Research

One step on from inspiration striking, perhaps you know exactly what your subject or concept will be but need to dive deeper and learn more. Now we’re really hitting the strengths of fusing technology to creativity! Wikipedia is a first port of call for many, given its huge banks of information on almost every subject, but if the validity is a concern then you might seek to crowd source some information from your networks. Linkedin and Quora both boast a high level of professional insight when you need to find an expert opinion. For full presentations on a given subject, you can also poke around Slideshare for information.

Memory Aid

Even more frustrating than being blocked from inspiration is knowing that it struck but not being able to recall your moment of genius. Mobile technology is ideally placed to help out hear, providing a tool to record ideas in any shape or form. It’s hard to beat Evernote as a one-size fits all solution to all an artist’s recall needs, as it features sound recording, picture snapping and, of course, note taking, all in one app. It also has a rather useful geo-tagging feature, if the location of your inspiration is of particular importance. For more specialized use, however, a musician may choose to use a service like Soundcloud to record and upload melodies, and writers could opt for the pure simplicity of Google’s Keep as an alternative to 5,000 Post-It notes on the bedroom wall.

Storage and Organization

The aforementioned Post-It notes are probably familiar to most creators, actually, as they can at least be rearranged and organized into new forms.But technology puts that process in the palm of your hand (or hands, for you 10″ tablet users), as well as offering access everywhere and a mode of storage that isn’t at risk from overzealous cleaners. Evernote again offers a compelling solution, with tags and archiving powerful tools to store away your ideas, or completed pieces of work, in a way that is easily accessible when you return. Dropbox is another, making up for what it lacks in depth of functions with a simple user interface and excellent options to share your work securely with others.

Opinions and Feedback

Research is one thing, but crunch time really hits when you complete your creative endeavor and the time comes to obtain some critical feedback. While your friends and family are available via standard social channels, chances are you’d like to get your work appraised by a wider audience of peers and/or fans. If you’ve built up an audience on blog sites like Tumblr or WordPress, they may prove the ideal space to test run your creations in a supportive but critical environment. If not, you can still utilize the platforms we’ve mentioned earlier to provide a private link and share your work directly with those you trust, if it’s not quite ready for the public eye. If your creative project is something as substantial as a website, there are even services that will offer more practical feedback in the form of usability testing, some fee-based and others with free options.

The resources here only scratch the surface of what’s out there, but the uses should give you an idea as to how you can creatively use technology to master your own creativity. A browse of your favorite app store should do the rest.

What tools or platforms do you find crucial to your own creative process?

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