Last month I had the opportunity to not only watch a graphic facilitator at work during a panel discussion, but also to then attend a how-to workshop on graphic facilitation. They were both extremely interesting!
What is graphic facilitation?
Graphic facilitation involves essentially creating a work of art as a way to capture ideas and notes. In this instance, a panel discussion of three experts were discussing issues around sustainability, and the graphic facilitator was drawing images to illustrate their main points and ideas. With graphic facilitation, you can see everything visually laid out for you at the end of a brainstorming session, and have a lot of ideas to take away from it (rather than just pages of notes or bullet point upon bullet point upon bullet point).
It's a very cool way to get our brains working - and the graphic facilitator at our how-to workshop even recommended that children who doodle use this method when they are in school by doodling what the teacher is talking about rather than doodling mindlessly.
How can graphic facilitation be useful?
As a way to visualize and capture everything that you've been talking about in a brainstorming session or discussion period, graphic facilitation enables us to think about our ideas in a different way and use our brains on a whole different level. It also has the added benefit of triggering our memories, so that when we look back at our artistry that illustrates the session, we can remember distinct points that people were making (rather than looking at your list of notes and vaguely remembering that someone said something along those lines...).
I experimented with graphic facilitation when I was reviewing a webinar. I took "notes" by drawing images and pictures. The best part is, I can still go back to that page that I drew all over and remember exactly what I was trying to get at. It's fun to be able to so easily decipher the major points by looking at a few simple drawings!
How do you "do" graphic facilitation?
Really, graphic facilitation is about drawing very simple, basic shapes and moving forward from there. At our how-to workshop, the graphic facilitator showed us that by combining seven elements - a circle, square, triangle, L-shape, the number 7, a straight line, and a wavy line - we can create anything! Granted, this doesn't mean that you instantly become an amazing artist overnight (TRUST ME. I can attest to that).
It's also about really exercising a part of our brains that a lot of us don't make use of in our adult lives. Think about light bulbs to illuminate key ideas, mountains to illustrate journeys, sign posts to indicate important messages, and so on. Colour is also a major part of this, as that can help to differentiate between various images (and there's nothing much more fun than getting a pile of markers and drawing as you're learning!).
Graphic facilitation is such a fun way to improve your memory when it comes to brainstorming and discussion sessions - it might not be entirely appropriate to test out in a meeting with your boss, but I definitely encourage everyone to take advantage of the next opportunity you have to implement this way of "note-taking." You'd be surprised at how effective it is!
Have you ever tried graphic facilitation? Can you draw well? Does this concept appeal to you? How do you ensure that you remember key points from discussion sessions? Share in the comments section below!
Earlier this year, Mr Science and I gleefully took advantage of a Rosetta Stone sale and made the splurge to purchase their Levels 1 - 4 of French. It was exciting.
Growing up, I was lucky to be exposed to a lot of different languages. I spent several years at an international school, where we were taught English, French, Dutch, Spanish, and German at the age of 12. We got firsthand practice by traveling in different countries. When I lived with a house family in Cabrils, I could understand Spanish / Catalan almost fluently (speaking it was another thing!). But none of it has "stuck" with me.
I liked learning other languages when I was traveling, but I never enjoyed it very much in school. Something about the way that it is traditionally taught has always frustrated me. I was "taught French" for at least seven years in school, but it always felt like we were just learning the exact same thing, year after year, and never progressing. Even though Canada is a bilingual country, a year ago the most French I knew was "bonjour." After all those years in elementary and junior high and high school, none of the French I learned stuck with me.
Over the years I've become increasingly more embarrassed about my total lack of knowledge when it comes to one of my country's official languages. It's a real wake-up call, as well, when French media calls your office requesting an interview, and you have to admit that out of the dozen people working in your office - at an organization whose logo includes French writing on it - not a single person can speak a word of French.
For these reasons, among others (including that being able to speak a second language is a nice thing to add to the resume!), Mr Science and I decided it was about time we learned French.
We didn't want to just be able to say a few words. We want to be able to carry a conversation, to have a meaningful discussion, in another language. Rosetta Stone seemed like the perfect option in terms of flexibility and also learning together.
I knew that it would be a big undertaking to learn a new language, but I don't think I really understood it. Mr Science and I have been working on French since May, sometimes practicing every day, and other times going for two or three weeks without opening the program. We've learned how to put a few very basic sentences together. We try to incorporate some of our French learnings into our everyday conversation together, but it is tough!
Learning French has been (and will continue to be!) more than just about learning a new language. As I'm learning French, I'm understanding more about the English language, as well, and how the way that we structure our sentences indicates a lot about the people that we are and about our cultures. I'm learning about committed discipline. I'm learning about how to think in a new language: Rosetta Stone doesn't focus on translations, it focuses more on word associations, so that you aren't always translating things in your head but are instead truly "getting" the new language.
It's hard work, but I love it. We are still only just halfway through level one of four levels, and I know that I have a whole lot more to learn in the coming years. I'm excited for it.
Can you speak more than one language? What have your experiences been in learning a new language? Have you tried Rosetta Stone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
It's very timely that as we were JUST talking about the best thing you can do when writing your novel, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) is right around the corner!
Between November 1 - 30, NaNoWriMo invites you to write a 50,000-word novel. This year, they are expecting 500,000 writers to join in - and you could be one of them! Through participating on the NaNoWriMo website, you'll be able to access writer forums, attend writer events, and find writer buddies. And hopefully within 30 days, you'll have written a 50,000-word first draft of a novel.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
I am currently halfway through writing my *big* novel, the one that I'm really proud of and feel has a decent shot in the publishing world. I've been working on my manuscript for the past five years or so, on and off, and I am currently at just over 35,000 words. Just to get it considered for publishing, my word count should be doubled.
This is more exciting to me than anything else. Right now I have the bones of my story written, with the beginning, middle, and end, and plenty of subplots sketched out throughout the story. There's a lot more that I can explore in terms of character development and plot lines and depth with my descriptions and my dialogue, and I'm having a lot of fun being able to really get into it.
The problem, however, with working on a manuscript for 5+ years, is that you start forgetting the names of your characters, and the colour of their eyes, and how many years apart their siblings are, and so on. This can result in needing to flip back and forth through the pages, trying to find the precise information - and can seriously disrupt your creative flow!
In addition to this problem, my least favourite part about writing novels and novellas is that, in order to get them published, you have to provide a chapter-by-chapter breakdown and story synopsis and word counts and all sorts of technical details. I get impatient with putting together all of those pieces. I just want to write!
With these two issues in mind, I have begun working on my novel right from the beginning again. And this time, I am working on putting together a chapter-by-chapter outline as I go through the story, page-by-page.
This is making my life so much easier. As I'm editing and rewriting my story, I'm marking down those details on eye colour and age, and I'm also making brief notes about what takes place in each chapter, and how many words each chapter is, and the page number that each chapter starts on. By the time I'm finished rewriting my manuscript, I'll have the bones of my synopsis completed, and it will be a snap to pull it all together! Moreover, I won't have to go searching to find detailed information on my characters and plotline from chapter four for one sentence in chapter thirteen.
I highly recommend you put this technique into practice if you're working on your own novel. Writing the outline of the novel as you're writing the novel itself is one of the best things you can do to make your life easier and to see where your story is going.
Do you write novels? What techniques do you use when writing them? Share in the comments section below!
I love a good advertisement. Two of my current favourites are the Coca-Cola Security Camera commercial, and the Recycle Everywhere: What They Become ads.
These are both great ads in their own ways. The Coca-Cola commercial is sweet, fun, and relatable, and you don't actually find out what product the commercial is promoting until the end. It's the concept of "Coca-Cola as a lifestyle" rather than pushing the product itself - a highly effective approach:
The Recycle Everywhere ads, on the other hand, get straight to the point regarding recycling - but again, they bring the message home extremely effectively, but showcasing what your individual recycling efforts can turn into:
Have you seen this ads? What do you think of them? What are some of your favourite advertisements? Share in the comments section below!
Last weekend, we visited the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of Nuit Blanche. It was a fun evening and so nice to see all of the different art - but as we were wandering the galleries, I found myself - as I so often do when looking at art - dismissing the Renaissance section at first glance.
Art is a form of rhetoric. It can be extremely captivating and you can decipher so many different meanings from it. And analyzing and critiquing art can be a fantastic experience!
So why is it that Renaissance artwork leaves me with such disinterest?
Something I found very interesting, when wandering the Renaissance gallery, was how similar all of the faces looked in the paintings. The expressions were all nearly identical. The face of a baby looked the same as a young woman which looked the same as an old man: if all you saw was the facial features of a Renaissance painting, you would have no idea who or what was being portrayed.
The colours of Renaissance artwork are also vivid in an almost comic book way, as Mr Science observed. There's a strange cartoony quality in many of the pieces, and an underlying ugliness* seems to be one of the key features of the Renaissance.
Moving into the galleries featuring Dutch windmills and landscapes from the 1800s, and the more recent abstract artwork featuring bright colours and defined lines and blending strokes, I couldn't help but notice how much more these paintings appealed to me. And it wasn't necessarily because the landscapes and abstract paintings were "softer" or "prettier." I think what I preferred about them was that, although some were certainly similar, there were many that were vastly different. The colours, the styles, the lines and shapes, all of these were different. When it comes to Renaissance artwork, much of it just seems so much of the same to me. And that gets dull very quickly.
What do you think? Is one Renaissance piece much like another? Do you enjoy abstract art? Share in the comments section below!
*Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder - it is simply my opinion that the starkness of Renaissance art has an ugliness to it.
After reviewing Creative You, I've been thinking a lot about the creative outlet, finding inspiration, and what gives us the motivation to do the things we love - such as writing.
One of the best tips that I have come to learn over the years (through anecdotal evidence) is that if you want to really unleash your creativity and get more writing done, you have to read more.
It seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? But it's not at all.
Reading your own work enables you to reflect on your writing style and become a better editor and, in time, a better writer. It provides you with the opportunity to take a good look at your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and what you like and dislike about your writing style - and to build on that and grow from it.
Reading academic pieces or journalistic writing enables you to convey complex thoughts through your writing, and to learn how to become more concise and clear in your messages. Reading literature enables you to find a story in everything, and to consider character development and the elements of a great story.
You can learn all of these skills at a subconscious or a conscious level when you are reading. But above all, keep reading, and vary the genres and styles of the works that your read. It will keep the creative juices flowing, give you fresh new ideas to write about, improve your writing, and make you want to keep writing more and more. It's a wonderful way to nurture your passion.
The e-book of Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive by David Goldstein & Otto Kroeger was sent to me as a review copy earlier this month via Beyond Words Publishing.
I very much enjoyed this book and found it so fascinating to begin by responding to the four main questions for determining my own creative personality type. Some of the questions, like "Are you an introvert or an extrovert?" were a no-brainer (introvert all the way!), but other questions, like "Do you prefer thinking or feeling?" were much more difficult. Luckily, the authors included a handy chart with the characteristics of both sides for every one of their questions to help you more easily determine which one you are.
After responding to each question, you are given a letter depending on which response you chose. This results in 16 possible combinations (and therefore 16 different creative types). The following 70 pages outline in greater detail the creative profiles, as well as temperaments of creativity (who knew there was so much involved in the creative personality?!).
From there, the book unravels each of the 16 creative types. I eagerly flipped forward to "my" section ("the facilitator") with great interest to see if it was at all reflective of my true creative personality and to see if it resonated with me. Some of it spoke very clearly to me ("you have the ability to express subtle messages to the benefit of others." Ha! Yes.), but other parts made me second-guess whether I had responded the initial four questions completely accurately ("sponge-like memory"? No. Definitely not). The problem that I find with conducting these kinds of exercises is that it is so easy for us to choose the answers that we want to be, rather than the ones which we are, that it can lead us to inaccuracies (something that the authors themselves make a note of in the book).
Lastly, the book finishes by exploring the different ways that you can use your creative personality to your advantage, and how to best utilize it in real-world settings. I really enjoyed how incredibly practical this book can be, and how much of a resourceful tool it can be to understanding ourselves better and being our creative best! I would definitely recommend this book.
I intend on going back through the questions and reading each one more fully so as to get to the bottom of if I answered one of them incorrectly. Since I prefer reading on paper as opposed to the Internet (I know, I know! Sounds a little silly coming from a blogger who writes for more than five different blogs ), I think it will be easier to print the entire book out and go forward from there. E-books can make the eyes go a little fuzzy.
Have you read Creative You? Does your creative personality need some fleshing out or have you got it all figured out? Share in the comments section below!
After recently launching Living Fashionably in the Real World, I got to thinking about blogging in general, and how you know when it's time to start a blog, especially in this time period when anyone can start up a blog within the space of approximately five minutes.
There are a few things to take into consideration before starting a blog. These questions might help if you are thinking about starting a blog (or a new one in addition to your current blog), but not sure if you're quite ready for it:
- What will your blog be about? It's important to write about something you like! Knowledge + passion are an important combination when considering your blog's subject matter.
- Does your blog idea already exist? There are so many blogs out there that the general idea of your blog has probably already been done several dozen times. What will you bring to the mix? What can your blog add to the blogs that already exist on your subject matter? This is also a good time to think about why you want to blog.
- Do you enjoy writing and can you set the time aside to write your blog? It's tempting to start a blog for the sake of it, but many people realize they don't actually enjoy the writing process (maybe you need a photo or video blog instead!), or else they simply don't have the time to devote to it. At this point, start thinking about how frequently you plan on blogging, and how much time you're willing to devote to blogging.
- How many ideas do you already have for your blog? If you can think of three blog posts and you're stuck at that point, you might want to reconsider writing a blog. If you can immediately think of dozens ideas for topics to write about on your blog, that's a great start. Be aware of how quickly your initial ideas could be used up. Can you constantly, regularly come up with new material?
- What obstacles will you face in blogging, and how can you overcome them? Everyone is going to have their own obstacles. Perhaps your Internet connection isn't very good, or you're overworked, or you're not sure you'll have enough ideas. It's good to have back-up plans to kick in when one or more obstacles will inevitably arise.
Share in the comments section below if you have other recommendations for what to think about before starting a blog!