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Yes, I covet office supplies... Photo:

I like to brainstorm on a whiteboard. In my dreams, it’s 6’x4’, rolling, and two-sided. In reality, it’s 16”x23” and lying unmounted on the carpet.

There’s something about using a dry-erase board that taps into my creative side. I can use colors, make connections, write upside down if I want, and—probably most important—easily erase at will. It’s kinetic and unboxed. I can stand and move while capturing my thoughts.

Yes, I could do this on paper, but I think the sense of permanence (and probably the sense of waste) stifles my creativity in comparison to the whiteboard. On paper, my ideas are not so easily erased or rearranged. My efforts become messy and require more paper. (I do have a stack of scrap for this purpose.)

The computer makes up for paper’s disadvantages, but requires a more linear approach without some kind of special software or mouse for freeform expression.

For some reason, when I use paper or the computer, I feel like I’m tied to the ideas previously written, and I tend to get stuck in a thinking rut. It’s purely psychological, but why fight it?

I also like the large space afforded by a board. I can write in big, bold strokes, change colors, draw lines and symbols, and just…spread out. With a big enough board, I can make notes on several different areas of the story at a time. Character stuff over here, plot ideas over there, and GMC notes at the bottom.

I use the computer to capture my freeform notes before wiping the board clean, and once I get to the writing phase, I prefer the computer. With Scrivener, of course. 😉

But for now, in my pre-writing phase, I’m getting a headache from the smell of dry-erase markers.

Tell your friends!


  1. KM Fawcett


    And it’s fun!

    My daughter loves to use the dry erase board to study for her spelling tests…and other tests too.

    • Reply

      So true, Kathy. It’s one of the things I miss from my days in a cubicle. I used to plot, plan, and list on a whiteboard back then too, but it was all about how to solve manufacturing line issues instead. 😉

  2. Curtis


    Nothing like free wheeling. Sometimes it seems like cheating to find what your looking for without the strain of what is customarily understood as work.

    Long live white boards, big artist tablets, the back of envelops, that tacky note book in the side pouch of my Jeep and Writing The Natural Way.

    Looking forward to your Scrivener class. 🙂

    • Reply

      So true, Curtis. I get my best ideas when I let myself relax. And I have paper everywhere for catching those ideas.

      Oh, yay. Are you going to take the class? I was working on my lesson plan today. So excited. 🙂

  3. Reply

    At my day-job, I have an 8′ x 4′ whiteboard. It’s the bestestestestest thing in the world. But that’s at work 🙁

    I fell in love with mind-mapping some five years ago, and I use that like it’s going out of style. On my iPad, I use mind-mapping tools and I love it. The fact that you use your fingers, it simulates the artistic (right-briain) process needed for brainstorming. then export my drawings and keep them in my Scrivener research folders.

    One of these days, I will surprise my wife (in a bad way, I’m sure) and get a huge whiteboard installed in our home office.

    • Reply

      Okay, Ara, I’m jealous of your whiteboard. 😉 I love mind mapping, but I think you just gave me an excuse to save up for an iPad, because on my laptop, it’s just not the same.

      Right now my home office is in the corner of our oversized bedroom, so I’m pretty sure my husband would nix the giant whiteboard. Gotta wait until my oldest son goes to college, then I can have his room, and there’ll be nothing stopping me. 😀

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