Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sketchnoting - Yes, You Can!

Several years ago, I would see sketchnotes come across my social media feed and think, "Wow, that's incredible.  I wish I could draw." I wasn't an artist, how could I possibly be expected to draw things on my notes? Notes by Sylvia Duckworth and Wanda Terral would scroll by on my Twitter feed while I sighed longingly, wishing I could create beautiful and useful images like those. You see, I knew that images were powerful and that they would improve my learning, I just didn't think I was capable enough or talented enough to give it a try. After having conversations with many others about sketchnoting, I'm positive that I wasn't alone. Too many people think that they aren't artistic enough to make sketchnotes. Guess what? That's a lie. A big one! It may be true that you aren't very artistic. It may be true that you don't draw well. I certainly didn't. However that doesn't mean that you can't sketchnote. You can. Everyone can.

Now, will everyone's sketchnotes turn out like Sylvia's or Wanda's notes? No, of course not, but they don't need to! Sketchnotes are first and foremost for the person who creates them. They help the person taking notes to make deeper connections to the content and to solidify the information in his/her brain. They don’t have to be amazing and frame-worthy every time. I guarantee you that if you give it a try, and stick with it a bit, you'll surprise yourself. It takes some time to develop your style and find what works for you, but it is so worth it. Sketchnotes are so powerful! When I sketch, I retain the content so much more than when I used to jot notes in a notebook or type them in a document on the computer. I can close my eyes and think of a conference session I attended or book that I read and see the colors I used in my sketchnote. I can recall the images and icons and even some of the main ideas just from the memory of my sketchnote. The gain is worth the risk.

For me, it took getting an iPad where I could draw and then quickly hit undo and try again. That gave me the confidence to go ahead and take the risk and try it out. After a while, I got involved with a community called #Sketch50 on Twitter which helped me practice and experiment with sketching. Eventually that led me me starting the #SketchCUE event which you can read more about here. In honor of the second annual #Sketch50 event in April 2018, I made a short video that chronicles my Sketchnoting journey. I hope you find it inspiring.

I want to challenge you to give Sketchnoting a try. Start simple - choose a black pen/pencil/marker and one color. Practice with some simple shapes or sketch your favorite quote. Write the words in black and then try to add some emphasis to the important words by changing the size or font or color. Allow your creative juices to flow - you have them even if you think you don’t. Trust me, I was the person who said I could never sketchnote because I wasn’t an artist. Get on Twitter and check out #Sketch50 or check out their website at Take a look at the slides from the beginning sketchnotes session I run called The Power of Sketch and try out some of the prompts. In whatever way you are comfortable - pick up a pen or a stylus, lean into your growth mindset, and start sketching.  

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