One Squiggly Line Blog

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

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

WorldCreativityInnovationWeek_VisualThinking_OneSquigglyLine

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 & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording at Events

VisualNotes_GraphicRecording_TechInclusion_OneSquigglyLine

There's never just one way to create visual notes, especially when they are created live. And at a large scale. That can make capturing a panel talk more of a challenge for some people. It takes a bit more flexibility than a clearly defined presentation.

I tend to capture panel discussions in a way that highlights the key points of the discussion as a whole. Not a series of summaries of what each person contributed. Since discussions tend to be rather fluid, the final visual makes much more sense that way. Speakers tend to like it better that way, too. So often key points build on what another speaker said, so there's no chance of misattribution when you capture the discussion as a whole.

The visual notes above were created during a panel discussion at TechInclusion last fall. You can see the whole set of visual notes created live, on-site there in this Flickr album

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

VisualThinking_Creativity_Patterns_FlowersInBoxes_OneSquigglyLine

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 & Live Visual Notes: Graphic Recording

When working live, you never know what's going to happen. I usually only have the same information the people in the audience have, which is a basic agenda. So I know the speaker's name, title of their talk, and how long they are scheduled to speak. That's it!

It's not uncommon for talks to go longer as planned, like the one above. That's usually a good sign, as it means the audience is really engaged. But it can be a challenge to capture all that extra content on the same page. 

Color is a great way to keep things organized when there's not much space available. Grouping concepts and thoughts according to color allows you to have completely different ideas right next to each other without things getting confusing. 

See more visual notes created live at One Squiggly Line's graphic recording page.

Visual Thinking: Words vs. Images

WordsVSImages_VisualThinking_OneSquigglyLine

To many, the term visual thinking means pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Maybe some charts and diagrams, too. And possibly a few mind maps thrown in for fun. 

While pictures are a big part of visual thinking, words are also a big part. Words can be really powerful. Pictures can be very powerful. And when you put the two together, the message becomes even more powerful.

Check out the drawing above to see more specifically what's involved with both words and pictures. 

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

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Catnaps

RealMenLoveCats_VisualThinking_OneSquigglyLine

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 & Live Visual Notes (Graphic Recording): Demos & Pitches

VisualNotes_GraphicRecording_DemosPitches_OneSquigglyLine

Demos and pitches are a pretty common part of the business world. Actually, they're a big part of every world, even if you don't formally use the term "demo" or "pitch". At the heart of both demos and pitches is a quick, concise presentation of key points. Hopefully, that presentation is both entertaining and memorable.

Hand-drawn visuals are a great way to make your presentation more entertaining and memorable. The drawing above was created live, in real-time as the speakers gave their demo or pitch.

To see more examples of visual notes create live, in the moment, visit One Squiggly Line's Live Graphic Recording page. Or for visuals created to highlight key points, created before or after a presentation or from print materials, see One Squiggly Line's Synthesis Images page

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Smile!

SmileBug_VisualThinking_OneSquigglyLine

It probably comes as no surprise that cheerful, happy visuals  can put you in a cheerier mood. Or make you crack a smile at the very least.

What may come as a surprise is that cheery visuals impact more than mood. And that impact differs between men and women. Men experience a greater drop in anxiety than women do when looking at a happy picture. Women, on the other hand, experience a greater boost in their working memory than men do when faced with a cheerful picture.

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