One Squiggly Line Blog

Hand-drawn pictures can make things clear, simple, and fun in blogs, too!

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Use something in a new way

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.
Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them. One way to get a new idea or find a creative solution is to use something in a new way.

Sometimes, I take stacks of business cards with me, like if I'm working at a conference or event. Regular rubber bands seemed to rip several of the cards, which meant I had fewer to give out. So, I looked around and found something different to hold my business cards together — stretchy ribbon hair ties. Not only do they hold my business cards together, they look better, too!

When it comes to creativity, the best ideas can be inside the box, not outside of it. You just need to use them in a new way.

Visual Thinking & Creativity; Visualize it richly & colorfully

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Visualizing things richly and colorfully leads to more creative thinking. You probably visualize things more than you realize, without really thinking about it. So you already have some visual thinking skills. But how do you become better at visualizing things on purpose?
Try this:

Go to a hardware store or someplace that sells paint. First, pick a paint sample color card that matches your shirt. That's a warm-up, starting with something very concrete and right in front of you — your shirt.

Then, look for a paint sample color card that matches something at home. It could be a different shirt, a piece of furniture, your walls. Whatever you choose, you will need to picture it very clearly in your mind so you can "see" the color.

Paint sample cards are usually free, so you can take home the ones you think are the closest and see how well you did. The more you practice, the better you get!

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking: Visual Biography

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Abstract ideas can be fascinating, but our brains really prefer things to be concrete. That way, it's much easier for the brain to make sense of them. And remember them.
A great way to make your own short bio more memorable and engaging is to make it visual! Mine is above. As you can see, the key facts are worked into my logo. That helps folks remember a bit about me when they look at my logo, wherever it is.

A visual biography can be much more powerful than a paragraph or two listing your accomplishments. So if you need to give a quick bio for a speaking engagement or whatever, make it visual!

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Timelines

Pictures are obviously a big part of visual thinking. So are words. But if you just throw a bunch of words and pictures on a page, you just end up with a mess. A visual mess that makes your thinking messy, too.
That's where organization comes in. It's the third essential component of successful visuals. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, it's often best to keep things really simple.

A timeline is a simple and effective way to visually organize information.The image above shows a simple timeline of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, where I got my master's degree. Of course there's a whole lot more to their story than shown in this timeline, but it includes the things that influenced or impacted me in some way. You get the idea, at a glance.

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: World Creativity & Innovation Week

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It's two months since World Creativity and Innovation Week. But why not celebrate it every month? On April 15-22 every year, people from around the world celebrate creativity and innovation by deliberately doing something creative every day. It could be something simple or something profound. It really doesn't matter — just be creative, whatever month it is!

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Think inside the box, too!

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.

Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them.

While there's often a push to "think outside the box" when generating ideas, thinking inside the box can be just as important. And productive. "The box" gives you a starting place, and sometimes getting started can be the hardest part.

So when looking for creative ideas, it's really ok to start with what you know, right where you are, with whatever you have right in front of you. Because once you start, you'll most likely keep going until that great idea hits you.
 

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Catnaps

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.

Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them.

Even so, sometimes all that thinking and evaluating can be quite exhausting. That never leads to great ideas. Or great work. And it can cause you to get stuck. 

The best thing to do when that happens is...nothing! Nothing related to whatever you're mulling over, that is. I like to call those little breaks catnaps. You could literally take a little nap. Or go for a walk. Or watch a few fun videos. Or even go do your laundry! It really doesn't matter what you do, as long as it gets your mind off of whatever you were thinking about.

That may sound rather passive, and even look passive, too. But while you're busy snoozing or doing your laundry or whatever, your mind is still hard at work searching for that great idea. And it will not stop until it finds something you're satisfied with.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Idea Boxes

There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.

Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them.

One classic way to create something new is to combine things. And a great way to do that is with an idea box. It's really easy to do - the image above shows one I used with kindergarten through jr. highers. 

First, write out the parts of your project, problem or whatever you're thinking about. Next, make a list of thing that fall into each of those categories (random is good here!). Then, chose something from each list and put them all together. If you don't like what you end up with, reach back into your idea box until you find something you do like!