Sketchy

For Christmas I was given, among other things, a copy of The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde. I came across sketchnoting a few months ago (via a link from the Bullet Journal site I think) and I’ve been following his website and reading about it.

My initial impression was that sketchnoting isn’t really that ground-breaking, just a way of entertaining yourself while taking notes in lectures and talks. I also was sceptical about whether I could draw well enough to make it worthwhile trying.

Today I went to a day conference on rural ministry, over the border in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. With four half hour talks in the morning and two seminars in the afternoon, there was plenty of scope for trying out sketchnoting.

Drawing arrows works well
Drawing arrows works well

Of the six talks, here’s the one that looks most like a sketchnote. I still wonder if I could have captured more using traditional notes, but I do think I’ve got the most important things down in a way that makes sense to me. More importantly, I found it easy to concentrate, didn’t fall asleep and found that the quality of my listening was better: I was listening with the question, “what are the most important things I’m hearing” foremost in my mind.

My conclusion is that sketchnoting may well be a fruitful way forward. It relies on the people speaking being well organised and flagging up verbally what they consider to be the most important areas. I think it would be very difficult to sketchnote a poor speaker. I will continue to explore the concept (including finishing reading the book – just chapter 7 to go, which is the chapter that concentrates on how to draw) and see how it goes.

In the past year I’ve really got attached to my notebook. It’s a Moleskine 5″ by 7″ with lined pages. Being a Moleskine, the paper is too flimsy for fountain pens but I use it with a Staedtler triplus ball medium and I’ve found it really useful. Since last February, when I started it, I’ve used 181 pages out of 240.

  • I keep my master to-do lists in there.
  • I use a page per day, when I’ve got a day at my desk, to keep track of all the things I should be doing.
  • It travels with me to meetings and I write down all my action points in there, so I know there’s only one place to look.
  • I’m using a version of the bullet journal system (including
  • I keep notes from lectures and sermons in there
  • the children have used it to draw in when they are bored

I’m now at the point of deciding whether to get another Moleskine or switch to a different notebook. I’ve got a Leuchterm A5 with a dot grid for my longer pieces of writing and reflection, but I think it is too big to use for a notebook that travels everywhere (the Moleskine is just that bit narrower and it makes the difference). I also picked up a Rhodiarama, so I could have a notebook that would take fountain pen ink, but it is the same size as the Leuchterm and I’m not sure that fountain pen would be very practical in the places I use my travelling notebook. The Church seems to have something against the idea of providing tables to lean on in any kind of taught session or meeting.

In other news

There was also a really beautiful window in the seminar room I was in. I tried drawing it in a quieter moment, but it didn’t work out well. Good thing I had my camera handy. There were some green and pink parts to the window that you can’t see in the photo that added to the perfection.

Small but perfectly formed
Small but perfectly formed

I continued with my crochet scarf during the talks – another way to stop me falling asleep is to have a knitting or crochet project that I know off by heart (or nearly) in my hands. Progress: 5/90. I need a spreadsheet to keep track of which colour combinations I have used.

A year of writing

Happy New Year.

I’ve decided that 2016 will be a year of writing. Quite what that looks like I’m not yet sure but don’t hold your breath that there will suddenly be more frequent posts on the blog. My plan is to write something, somewhere every day. Some days this will be covered by work: for example I usually write 1000 words per week for a Sunday morning sermon. I’m also trying to be more intentional about doing theological reflection as I’ve finally come round to the idea that it might occasionally be useful. Blogging about knitting is also included, as well as writing letters. It might include creative writing or calligraphy.

In October I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat,Pray,Love fame). It’s a fabulous book about creativity and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is one concept that has stuck with me particularly from the book: being a disciplined half-ass as opposed to a lazy perfectionist. Creativity is stifled by our own propensity to think that we are not good enough. Writing something, whether it is good or not, without self-censorship on the grounds of being rubbish is the key to getting better at writing. I see that every week as I’m writing sermons for work. There’s no real way of getting around the fact that, come Sunday morning, I have to be standing up talking about Jesus. This happens, whether or not I am actually happy with what I have prepared. I have discovered that there is very little correlation between how happy I am with the sermon and how happy other people are. (They tend to like the short ones and the ones with funny bits). The discipline of writing and writing and writing, week after week, means that I suffer far less from the crippling lack of self-esteem and writer’s block that I used to be plagued with in the early days.  Remind me of this at 6am tomorrow morning when I am staring at the screen in despair.

That will have to do for now. I have a date with the family at a Chinese restaurant. My daughter has just enquired whether it is bonfire night tonight. I think this is because the last time we went out after dark it was bonfire night, so her expectations are set accordingly. She is now changing out of her wellies and putting her torch away.

Commonplace

In the last few months I’ve been reading a lot about notebooks, planners and various ways of organising life in an analogue way. The digital way, whether digital calendar or task list, just doesn’t suit me. It has to be pens and notebooks all the way.
One of the things I kept reading about was the practice of keeping a Commonplace book, but I couldn’t find anywhere that said what it was or what the point is or how to do it. Imagine my joy when I found this post:
http://alyjuma.com/commonplace-book/
Just what I wanted. Found via The Well-Appointed Desk.
More here.
I do keep a couple of notebooks on the go. I have a Moleskine which goes with me everywhere I go, for planning, work stuff and random notes. I also keep a notebook for knitting, which is where I keep notes of how I customise patterns, plus useful knowledge. Here is my favourite page.

image

Transcription: “How to get blood out of wool
Cold water soak
Rinse over & over until it is all out
A little mild soap if needed
Rinse from back side, with pressure.”
No idea where that information comes from. Hope I never need to use it.

Writing letters

This month I will be mostly writing letters.  February seems to be the month for committing to writing a real old-fashioned letter every day.

There’s Lettermo, which I have joined up with.

A month of letters 2015 participant

There is also InCoWriMo. That is, of course, International Correspondence Writing Month. Tagline: One a day, every day, February.

I’m following both the sites. Lettermo doesn’t require you to post anything on Sundays, but InCoWriMo does. I’m going to get ahead of the game and write a postcard today. I sorted out a pile of nice writing paper and some things to send to keep me going for the first few days.

On the knitting front, I’ve just covered the rug in the living room in yarn, in an attempt to work out the colour scheme for the next few rows of my sock blanket scarf.

sockblanket

Apologies for the poor light and the distraction of the rug. I was working out when I last used each yarn. You can see that there are a few that haven’t appeared since near the beginning. They’ll be coming up in the next few rows.

Oh, and here’s a link to the finished swirl, which I am snuggled up in as I type.