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A Creative Approach to Writing - Using a Cartoonists Approach

By Bob 'Idea Man' Hooey |

If you have any amount of writing to do as a part of your leadership role, or in your organizational process, taking a leaf from the skills or processes used by cartoonists to create their illustrations might be helpful in your creative process.

I remember as a very young boy, perhaps 6 or 7, we lived in southern California not too far from Disneyland. I remember buying one of those learn how to draw books which covered cartooning. They took us through the basics of creating cartoon characters for example a dog: roughing out an oval for the head and another larger one for the body and then adding more details until the basic drawing started taking shape.

As the carton progressed these initial outlines might be blended with new lines or eliminated altogether. What was important was that those quick broad pencil strokes or lines became the foundation or inspiration for what would, hopefully, become a colourful, detailed illustration.

Although I did not follow through with the idea of being a cartoonist, I do reflect on the skills learned, as they applied to creativity in writing. Whether the writing being done is a simple memo, a white paper or report, a business plan, a mini-book or a full-fledged workbook, or even a hardcover coffee table book the lessons from the pages of my Learn to Draw Cartoons are invaluable.

A good writer soon learns that ideas captured or recorded as text notes, or on a computer are very malleable. When inspiration strikes, and a thought appears, you learn to capture those broad strokes of inspiration, perhaps with a few key words, illustrative phrases, sentence fragments which help you recall and flesh out the details at a later time.

The important point here is simply capturing the essence of the idea, not correct grammar or spelling. In a way it is like the idea generation part of an effective brainstorming process where the essence to create and capture the ideas for evaluation, analysis and application later.

Much like my amateur attempts at creating shapes as a cartoonist, these initial thoughts or ideas may not survive the finished piece, or they may be blended with other ideas, thoughts and paragraphs as the writing progresses. They do however serve a broader purpose, similar to the pencil lines, as they create a starting or launching point or foundation for your written communication.

Perhaps you might have to deal with 'writer's block' or uncertainty as to what to put to paper from time to time. Approach your project from the cartoonist's view and start with broad, rough stokes of ideas, thoughts, and fragments.

Realize you can blend and shape them with an incredible degree of creativity on the canvas of your computer's word processor. Then you can share these thoughts with those you work with, want to inspire, call to action, or simply keep informed.

In business, and more so in the role of a business leader, being able to capture and communicate your ideas and thoughts is a success skill that can provide that competitive edge you or your organization needs for the 21st Century.

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