I have always had a love/hate relationship with drawing. I love looking at amazing drawings, illustrations, sketches, etc., but hate that I am so bad at it. Truthfully, the main reason I am so bad at drawing is because I have never done anything about it. Every so often though, something happens that circles me back to the idea that I want to be good at drawing, and once again I do not do anything about it. This cycle continued for a long time (way too long) before I came to the realization that it is not really drawing that I keep coming back to. It is sketching. It is doodling. It is visualizing my thinking. It is illustrating my ideas.
Over the past few years, I have seen the idea of visual thinking blow up. It seems to me that it is everywhere and I am totally in love with it. When I first saw it, my immediate reaction was once again, “I won’t be able to do that because I can’t draw for the life of me.” However, visual thinking is not drawing.
**One point: I know I could totally learn how to draw if I would just try it and practice, but I can never seem to force myself to, so I must not really want to that bad.
Visual thinking is using pictures (visuals) to process what you are thinking/learning and to communicate that information.
visual thinking can benefit both you and others
For example, if you are taking notes from a book or a speech, when you practice visual thinking you are not simply copying down word for word what the author or speaker says, rather you are interpreting their words into your own visuals. As a result, you are more likely to remember and understand the information because you are actively engaging with it rather than just passively copying it down.
Or, if you are trying to communicate an idea with someone else, sometimes words are not enough. Visuals can provide more clarity to what you are trying to share than just words can. Visuals + words = even better. (As a middle school teacher, I see this notion proven on a daily basis.)
Visual thinking can be used to brainstorm, to communicate your ideas, to problem solve, to tell a story, etc. Visual thinking is awesome because anyone can do it; you most definitely do not need to be an artist. Here are three tips to help you get starting illustrating your ideas by using visual thinking.
#1 Get over yourself
So what if you think you can’t draw. I know you can do this. Visual thinking is not about drawing intricate works of art, it is about expressing your ideas in a way that is easier to communicate with others. If you want to sketch something and you don’t know how, Google “__________________ (insert whatever it is you want to draw here) icon.” You will get something that is much easier to sketch and that anyone can replicate. I do this weekly, maybe even daily :). You just have to start somewhere – even if that somewhere is not very good.
#2 Find some Inspiration
One awesome part of being interested in something that is so popular right now is that inspiration is everywhere! Google (or go on Pinterest and search) “sketchnotes” or “visual thinking.” There is an endless amount of inspiration to be found. You will see some amazing pieces that can be considered works of art and some that are just decent in terms of execution, however what they all have in common is that each of them does a better job communicating ideas than words alone would.
The following books have been extremely helpful on my visual thinking journey. It is not necessary to read all of them. Choose the one that appears the most interesting to you!
- Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown
- The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam
- Sketchnote Workbook by Mike Rohde
#3 Practice, Practice Practice!
You can’t just want to get better at visual thinking you have to actually put in the practice (bummer, I know). But, you don’t have to dedicate your life to this. Try to illustrate an idea you have once a day. It could be as easy as drawing/sketching one thing on your to do list.
In order to help you get started illustrating your ideas, I created a 30 day challenge for you. It is a super simple way to get better at illustrating your ideas over the next 30 days. Most days, the challenge will take you less than a minute – can’t get much easier than that. Interspersed throughout the month are 4 challenges that will take you a little longer, but will totally be worth it! Click here to get your worksheet now! (Also, make sure you look at the bottom of the the worksheet for a chance to win my course, Design Your Creative Path).
I can’t wait to see what ideas you come up with!