Reading Reflection: The Doodle Revolution

Currently reading: The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown (2014)

I recently picked up this book after a conversation on the always fascinating #womenintc conversation on Twitter. Some of the scholars had been posting pictures of their writing process, and many of the pictures included pictures of elaborate drawings, flow charts, and visual representations of works in progress. So I went in search of some texts about the power of visualizations, but I was really looking for a low-stakes form of visual thinking that I could use in any writing class.

Enter the doodle.

Brown’s whole goal is to unlock the power of visual thinking and to silence the inner critic who says that you can’t draw. Doodling is not art, she argues, but doodling is valuable because it provides an alternative way of viewing and thinking that can lead to new problem solving strategies. Brown has a lot to say about visual literacy, and it really fits nicely with multimodal composition theory. But I really value this book for its practical applications. Throughout the book, Brown breaks down line-by-line the elements that make up a doodle so as to make doodling accessible to even the most unartistic among us. If you can draw some sort of circle, you can doodle. The doodle itself isn’t the important component; it’s really the process of taking complex information, relationships, processes, etc. and breaking these aspects down into a visual representation.

I’m trying to think of ways to best incorporate doodling into the Intro to Digital Media Composing course that I will be teaching in the fall. I want to start the class off with doodling as a low-stakes, less threatening way to start thinking about visual representations. I’ll probably assign part of this book or a podcast that The Student Affairs Spectacular recently released on doodling. I may ask students to doodle themselves as a class introduction activity in the hopes that they may find it easier to start visually representing themselves. Brown provides some great group activities to build doodling skills like an exercise to help create doodles ranging from the concrete to the abstract. I’d also like to ask students to doodle a section of an alphabetic text, probably one of the course readings, in order to practice translating or remediating.