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Creative Career Path

Back to the Doodle2012.04.09

    In a previous article entitled Doodle for Your Noodle, we looked at Sunni Brown’s ground breaking work on visual thinking in what she calls The Doodle Revolution. It is time to visit Sunni again. It’s always time to visit Sunni, because doodling is something you learn by doing, not just by reading about, and she can show you how.


    Sunni Brown is a TED speaker, an author, a graphic facilitator, and an educator on a revolutionary mission to stop the madness and restore visual note taking to its rightful place.


    If you keep a journal, or notes of any kind, you will see that sketches and illustrations have a magic power to bring back what you recorded, particularly when combined with key words and phrases. It is as if doodling anchors ideas and experiences in our memory. By comparison, that which is not visually recorded is more likely to be forgotten, and more difficult to recall.


    Take Organic Chemistry, for example. Though most people would prefer not to take on such a difficult subject, for Virginia Scofield in 1969 it was not an option. Having once failed the course, she had literally run up against a wall with traditional note taking, highlighting, and rote memorization. Since Organic Chemistry was an unavoidable obstacle on the path to a PhD that she was absolutely determined to achieve, she set about taking the course again, but this time with a radical new strategy. She made simple sketches to represent every concept in the Morrison and Boyd Organic Chemistry textbook.


    This time she not only succeeded in passing the course, but went on to become Dr. Scofield, a celebrated immunologist, and a master teacher of complex science, actively engaging students with visual note taking. Sunni Brown considers Dr. Scofield’s approach to be living proof of how doodling actually helps the brain to focus, increase retention and recall, enhance creativity and problem solving ability, and to unify visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities.


    Sunni claims that visual note taking increases your retention by up to 30%. That can be extremely useful if you are a student, a speaker, or a sales person, where your ability to recall and present ideas is one of the keys to your success.


    For Sunni Brown doodling is highly engaging and purposeful, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Her website at features an online video course that takes you through the process of lettering, word pictures, creative bullets, frames, connectors, faces and figures, shadows and shading, as well as tips on active listening and graphic facilitation that can enhance your personal note taking and even prepare you to creatively capture the best ideas of other people in the process.


    Most of the benefits come when you keep doodling, and make it a natural part of the way you take notes. Learning how to doodle is the best way to overcome inertia and the habit of many years of not doodling. Most likely in your experience, it was either not done or actively discouraged in school or in the workplace. There is only one way to change that, and that is to start doodling again!


    You do not need to be an artist or graphic illustrator to benefit from visual note taking. Focusing too much on realistic or artistic representation can even slow down your thinking. The aim is to develop skills in capturing ideas on the fly using visual shorthand that combines words and images.


    If you have ever spent frustrating hours in unproductive meetings, skill in visual note taking could transform your experience into a highly productive exchange of ideas. Doodling can improve your listening skills, visually enhance your journal, and even spark great conversations. You can start doodling with a simple notebook and a pen, and doodling can add a fresh accent to social media and presentations, with a wide range of apps to choose from on any platform.


    Once you get the spirit of doodling and master a few basic skills, you will discover an enjoyable way to generate and express ideas, as the most productive geniuses of history have all done, from Leonardo da Vinci, to Thomas Edison and Walt Disney.


    In fact you can meet Sunni as I did in half-hour interview I conducted on SKYPE at, while she was in Paris working on her book, “a great place,” according to Sunni, “for a revolution.” You are sure to be charmed, and come away armed with a whole new set of tools for visual thinking.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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