Pause, Pencils, & Permission to Find YOUR OWN Workflow

I was so excited when Mike Rohde offered to send me a copy of his first book, The Sketchnote Handbook. Despite the fact that I'd already been sketchnoting for a few months, I found Mike's book so valuable because it gave me permission to own my workflow!

Let me explain. I actually didn't start off in the "visual note taking world" as a sketch noter, my initial introduction was actually via graphic recording. I took a Graphic Recording class with Christina Merkely, which I highly recommend if you are interested in GR, and after not getting much GR practice I took to sketchnoting in order to exercise my visual thinking muscles and continue improving my drawing skills. If you are unfamiliar with Graphic Recording, it's sort of like sketchnoting in that you combine words and pictures to capture ideas BUT Graphic Recording is generally done on HUGE sheets of paper (like 4x8), LIVE with a group or in front of an audience. Since GR is done live the emphasis is capturing information in the moment with markers, no pause buttons.

When I started sketchnoting Islamic lectures the information was rather complex, and really important. I mean God -forbid I mishear, misquote or mistake a phrase and then instead of my notes benefitting people, I'm spreading misinformation. Islamic lectures also generally include both Arabic and (for me) English terms and it can be a bit overwhelming trying to juggle all of these elements AND draw simultaneously (not that it can't be done). Anywho I had gotten in the habit of using the pause button while watching videos (gasp) and I kinda felt like I was cheating, to make matters even worse, sometimes instead of just going full throttle with my marker drawing new icons, I'd sketch them out in pencil. Yet another crutch.

Enter, The Sketchnote Handbook! What I loved about Mike's book is that while he shared his own workflow and approach to sketchnoting he also shared notes from lots of other people whose approach may have been different from his. The point here is that you are learning to sketch note to improve your learning and retention, how exactly you go about it and whether you are an excellent artist is immaterial. Reading The Sketchnote Handbook helped me realize that there is no perfect workflow, some sketchnoters use pencil and go back and ink, some sketchnoters take notes long hand and then go back and make sketchnotes from them later, some sketchnoters are totally comfortable just inking live on site, while others ink and fix mistakes in a photo editor later if need be. Whatever works for you, works for you, own it and don't feel bad about it, you can always modify your workflow as you improve and become more comfortable.

Here's another secret: While taking long hand notes, or penciled notes seems inefficient, in reality it gives you a second opportunity to revisit your notes, refine them and improve retention. In coming blog posts, I plan on diving deeper into the importance reflecting on your notes holds in learning. But for now realize that transforming traditional notes into sketch notes has reflection built in!

If you've been hesitant to try sketchnoting because it seems intimidating try taking a portion of your written notes; boil them down to the most important points (through reflection); then re-write those points and add a few graphics (use all the time you need and the pause button and pencils if you wish).

I'd love to see what you come up with, take a pic of your notes and share them on the flickr group or via FB or Twitter!

If you haven't at least grabbed your FREE chapter from the Sketchnote Handbook, definitely do that!

I'm actually in the process of creating a FREE email course on sketchnoting which I hope to roll out in the next few months. If you are interested in taking the course and staying up to date on other sketchyummah offerings you can sign up for updates below:

A FREE course sounds great, tell me more!

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