Creativity in 10 is a recurring series sharing ideas for how you can practice your creativity in ten minutes or less a day. Up today – Practicing Visual Thinking.
Here’s the story.
When it comes to visual thinking, many people immediately get hung up on the idea that it is drawing – it’s not. Well…it might be a tiny bit, but the emphasis is on communicating your ideas, not drawing. You might just have to draw some very basic creations in order to communicate your ideas.
Trust me, I wouldn’t use visual thinking so much if the emphasis was on drawing.
What is Visual Thinking Anyway?
Visual thinking is using pictures (visuals) to process what you are thinking/learning and to communicate that information. — there are a lot more complicated definitions of visual thinking out there, but I like this one because it gets straight to the point.
You use visuals to communicate ideas.
Why Use Visual Thinking?
It can benefit both you and others.
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.
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 ideas
- to communicate your ideas
- to problem solve
- to tell a story
- For a coach to demonstrate how a play would work
- To take notes
- To learn
Visual thinking is awesome because anyone can do it; you most definitely do not need to be an artist. Anything can be made clearer with a picture – this is why we look at maps, why we have illustrated how to directions, etc. Visual thinking applies to everything.
What do we do when we are trying to explain something when words don’t seem to be working? We draw it.
Getting Started With Visual Thinking
3 Steps to visual thinking:
Identify – identify your problem or what you want to do. For example: I want to figure out how to make this table. Or, I want to create an Elmo-themed party for a 2 year old.
Imagine – Imagine the possibilities, generate ideas, and brainstorm solutions.
Illustrate – Put pencil to paper, stylus to tablet, marker to – you get the idea. Just start.
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.” After hitting enter, click on Images. 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.
Then, you make it better.
Here’s a couple of ideas for getting started with visual thinking in less than 10 minutes. Choose any of these ideas, identify your problem, imagine it, and then start illustrating it.
Ideas for getting started. Choose one.
- A Ted Talk – there are many let are less than 6 minutes
- Your To-Do list
- An episode of your favorite podcast
- Episode of a tv show
- Sportcenter’s Top Ten List
- Your Own Top Ten List
- Places You Want to Travel
- Your Grocery List
- A Trip You Have Previously Taken