One Squiggly Line Blog

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

Visual Thinking & Creativity: A Manifesto for Life

“Live deeply. Never let a moment go by where you’re not fully embracing the time you’ve been given. Be passionate. Don’t let anyone you encounter leave the same way. Talk deeply, talk real. Time is limited - Make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Absorb the beauty in everything. Cry. Laugh. Dance in the rain. Kiss passionately. Don’t lock your voice in your mind-speak. Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it. Love. Love life. Love everyone. Appreciate everything you’ve been given. Don’t become upset with what you don’t have. Don’t rely on materials. Sleep. Drink plenty of water. Take little adventures. Run outside. Go hiking. Go for a walk. Go fishing. Sleep under the stars. Be deep. Express your love. Be thankful. Be fully present. Always show appreciation for everything. Stay present and mindful. Absorb the experiences that will one day leave you with a burning memory in the back of your mind. Eat healthy. Treat your body right. Forgive. Be selfless. Don’t care too much about appearance. Be honest.”

By: Meredith Illig

@meredith.rose.poetry

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Visual Thinking: Adopting New Perspectives

I took an Uber home today and the driver dropped me off at a location near my apartment that I’m not used to getting dropped off at. Initially I was a bit frustrated because I had to walk a couple yards further than normal.

But, as I was walking, I started to appreciate it because it gave me a new perspective that I needed at the time. It was mid-week, and I had been going through my same routine without too much thought - wake up, go to work, go home, etc. This small instance changed my mindset for a moment and bumped me out of my normal routine. The scenery had changed, and I saw my apartment from a new perspective which I hadn’t seen before.

This brought me back to when I first moved here. To my mindset, and to the excitement I had. I felt different, as if I adopted a new pair of lenses. My day felt different from the other ones, and it got me thinking that I need to break more patterns.

So I decided to go to the gym. I also sat on the bench at my apartment, peacefully enjoying nature. And I prayed for the first time in awhile.

I decided to break up my usual routine, and instead fill it with new perspectives.

It was refreshing.

I didn’t feel so robotic. I felt alive.

It’s important to change our routines from time to time. New perspectives bring forth creative thinking patterns.

If we stay on the same path everyday, chances are we’ll tend to have the same thoughts as we’ve always had. If we don’t evaluate our lives on a regular basis, we can easily fall into the trap of forming habits that are not conducive to a creative life.

We must evaluate and edit our lives on a frequent basis.


The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.”

-Chris Pine

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Creativity: We All Have It — Reignite Yours!

Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your personality? Do you remember any quirks you had?
 

And if you can’t remember that far back, think about the little kids you know, whether family, friends, or even strangers.
 

They all have one thing in common - they’re at the the most creative stage in their life.
 

Children are at a stage where they haven’t been conditioned to many routines and norms. They are completely themselves - unfiltered and raw.
 

...Always asking why

...Not caring too much of what others think about their appearance or their actions

...Saying whatever comes to mind

...Not holding back any ounce of laughter
 


As we grow older, eventually we don’t question as much
 

Eventually the routines of life become mainstream
 

Eventually our imagination grows stale
 

We hold back our laughter more and more
 

And eventually we lose the perspective of what could be in exchange for what is

Creativity gets taught out of us


Our teachers telling us to write in 12 pt. Arial font.


Our parents not having enough patience to answer all of our why’s.
 

Our own inflicted judgements
 

We become afraid of failure. Of messing up. Of saying the wrong thing. Of being judged.
 

To the point where we’ve lost ourselves in exchange for a mask that society has handed us.

We have unlearned creativity.

We all have the ability to be creative, but it's our job to learn it again.

Visual thinking is a great way to jumpstart your creativity, whether personally or professionally, alone or with a group. Simply watching someone else create something can inspire creative thinking and actions. Contact me to bring the power of visuals to your next event, meeting, or project and reclaim your creativity!

Visual Thinking: Get it! Grab it! Go for it!

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While visual thinking makes things simple, it certainly does not dumb them down. Part of the simplicity comes from removing unnecessary parts, leaving behind only what you need to work with. That allows you to really see exactly what it is you do have to work with. This often leads to that, "Oh, now I get it!" moment when everything finally seems to fall into place and make sense.

Once you can see things more clearly, you are able to make better decisions. Sometimes, things become so obvious it doesn't even really feel like you're making a decision at all. The right choice just jumps right at you. Or if you do need to think about it for a minute, it's much easier for you to grab it and run with it.

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

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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 Hand-drawn visuals are far friendlier than standardized fonts and stock photos. And hand-drawn visuals are even more inviting when created live, right there where everyone can see.
The drawing above was created during the opening remarks at the Women in Cyber Security conference the end of March. It was then displayed near registration to welcome late-comers. Not a high resolution file shown here, just taken with my iPhone in the moment.

To see the whole set of visual notes from the Women in Cyber Security conference, check out this Flickr album.

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: 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!