Pencil & Paper

Pens and notebooks

A notebook is the perfect solution to so many situations: facing that blank white screen or starting out on a new project, finding yourself at a cafe without a book, or wrestling with a million to-dos.  I rely on a computer as much as the next guy, and would be lost without Evernote.  But nothing beats a blank piece of paper and a 2B pencil to get me thinking.

My love of stationery means I’m always noticing notebooks.  The carpenter who fitted the new kitchen got my instant seal of approval for using Field Notes. The perfect notebook for everyday, they fit in a back pocket, with a soft cover, feint squared paper, and a ruler marked on the back (ok, I’ve never used the ruler, but I like the idea that I might.)

I type my to do lists and meeting notes, but both jobs are far better on the odd occasion when I get out paper and pencil.  I was in a meeting yesterday where we had paper taped to the table.  People kept adding to it as our plans developed, or pointed to previous points to recall them. We were, quite literally,  all on the same page.  I stumbled across this talk on graphic recording which puts it perfectly.

When working in pre-schools I often recommend visual schedules to help children with limited language or high anxiety know what to expect in their day.  And I’ve realised I do this for myself.  I’ve heard frequent mention of people with ‘too many open tabs’ in the brain: so many things rumbling in the background, so much to do, and all a bit of a jumble.  Doodling helps me iron these out.

And my doodling is dodgy. I don’t have a great wealth of artistic skill to call upon; I lack perspective, scale, shape.  But it doesn’t matter.  I’ve got over being embarrassed about my bad drawing and I actually like to share this weakness with others.  It makes our conversations feel more honest, less about putting up our ‘best front’.

I can’t give up the screen; it makes my life so much easier.  Computers keep me organised and efficient.  But paper brings me joy and inspiration.

New Words

Sunrays behind clouds at sunset

I’m not one for new year resolutions but, being a word nerd, I do like to nominate a word for the year. My 2013 word was resilience. I had recently taken on a new job that presented a whole host of challenges: setting up a service, managing a team, and generally sticking my neck on the line. I felt the weight of people critiquing my actions and the vulnerability of exposing my mistakes. So, I’ve learnt to be a little tougher, acknowledge errors and move on, rather than cringe and wallow. I’ve become surer of my own decisions and been happier to stand up for my ideas.

Having survived 2013 and toughened up a little, I want to keep my momentum going, pursue and actually complete all the many plans I scribble in to notebooks late at night. So my 2014 word is projects, to generally be up and doing.. creating lovely things, learning new piano tunes, writing more (including about my work as a Speech and Language Therapist) and reading many more books (a pretty constant endeavour…) I hope 2014 is looking good from where you’re sitting. I’m excited to start sharing it with you!