How a non-visual thinker is using a visual tool to inspire her writing.
I have a confession to make. Well, I have TWO confessions to make.
- I’m not a visual thinker (gasp!)
- When I heard about Monica’s vision for Cardsmith, I could easily see how it could be useful for thousands of people…just not me.
See, I once considered a career in relational databases. I think in complex Excel spreadsheets. I write linearly. I groaned inwardly when, as a team, we decided we should start actively using Cardsmith for its development as well as personal projects. It wasn’t because Cardsmith isn’t a wonderful and incredibly useful product (it is!) but because it seemed foreign to my way of thinking about and interacting with the world. For me, using Cardsmith was like putting a round peg in a square (card-shaped?) hole. Cardsmith is simple enough to use, of course, but the openness and visual nature didn’t immediately appeal to my data-geek, researcher-database brain. I just couldn’t think of a project where Cardsmith would useful for me. And then I remembered my blog…or lack thereof. At the beginning of 2014, I excitedly launched a blog and comic site about coping with a wonky relationship with eating and trying to live life more sanely. Then, life happened. I got busier. I became intimidated by all that I had to do to keep generating great blog content. The blog became too “big,” too overwhelming. So I “paused” my blogging…for a long time. I kept having great ideas for posts and occasionally would send myself an email to try capture them but never followed through. Those ideas never inspired actual blogging. It was still too amorphous and intimidating. And I wanted the blog to be so organized…with categories of posts (food, body image, critiques of news articles etc.) and have clever “call backs” to previous posts. That’s WAY too much organizing for a busy, social, professional, entrepreneurial gal. When challenged by the Cardsmith team to create a sample board, I groaned inwardly again. Then, grudgingly, I thought…, “Hmmmm, perhaps Cardsmith might could be useful in organizing my blog ideas…” …And my blog idea board was born. Now, whenever the muse fairy drops a doozy on me, any time during my day, I can just use Cardsmith to jot the idea down. After a few minutes of generating blog idea cards, I realized that for each idea, I had thoughts about what type of post it would be – perhaps a link to a news post about the latest stupid diet fad with my scathing review. A haiku on how hard it is to avoid the free cookies in the work kitchen. A comic outlining the inner thoughts of someone who can’t concentrate on what their dining companion is saying because of the bread on the table. So, I simply created a basic grid board with columns of these different post types. (Perhaps one day I’ll graduate to a freeform board, but let’s not get too crazy too fast!). Then I started seeing patterns in the post ideas. Naturally, categories of blog ideas emerged (food-related, mental-health related, body-related, etc.). So I easily added rows to capture these categories. I also noticed it was really easy to see which posts should relate to one another (“Hey! The post about me breaking up with the scale should be linked to the post about the news article on the detrimental mental health effects of weighting daily!”). With Cardsmith’s color-coding feature, I was able to quickly color-code posts with related content so I knew to connect the two when writing and posting. Within minutes, I had more than a dozen ideas for blog posts, organized by category and type of post, color-coded for related content.
At a quick glance, I can now see all of my ideas, organized. I can easily add new ones at any time. All of a sudden, I feel like my blog is doable again. I’m inspired to chip away at it. All because I could put my ideas, and allow them to evolve, in a single, easily-accessible, and, yes, VISUAL place I can access virtually anywhere. Halleluiah! Perhaps I can be a blogger after all. I just need to take it one card at a time.
Brittany is Cardsmith
‘s resident Salsa, Blues and Tango dancer and also coordinates research, marketing and development. She has her Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and is an aspiring blogger/comic on her site, Feeding Sanity.