Thinking, Writing and Visual Display

I use Curio, a mind mapping/brainstorming/light project management tool that runs on the Mac platform. In the forums, someone mentioned that the Index Notes feature might be good for managing projects the kanban way.

I’d not heard of this approach so out of curiosity I investigated further and along the way I came across this interesting snippet:

Thinking about the quick visual display that kanban gives you about a project reminds me of an anecdote I read about the author P.G Wodehouse. Apparently, when he was writing a story he would assess each finished page and stick it to the wall of his room. The pages would go in order around the room, like paintings in an art gallery. If he thought a page was good, he would stick it higher up the wall; if it wasn’t yet satisfactory, he would stick it lower down. As work progressed, this of course gave him an easy method of finding pages needing more thought or work. When the whole story was up to the height of the dado rail (i.e. nearly to the top of the wall), it was ready for his publisher.

This story reminded me of some pictures I’d seen of the writing room of Will Self. The stickies are presumably ideas and snippets (rather than parts of written pages) but the scale is impressive!

It’s interesting to think how Curio or Scrivener or Tinderbox or something else could help especially in searching and integrating or linking the many bits of visual/textual information.

In particular Tinderbox (recent review here) has many ways of using visual cues that are very imaginative. It’s also capable of producing some quite amazing outputs once you’ve mastered it (browse here for many examples). However this is a not inconsiderable feat – I’m currently on the slippery beginner’s slope! Below is a very simple example taken from my preparation for a local book club discussion of The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee (it got 7.5 out of 10 by the way!).

Nevertheless there is also something special in having material in 3D that you can touch and feel, something that software currently can’t emulate.

For complicated situations that last over a period of time (days/weeks), maybe it’s best to actually have a creative mixture of physical and digital notes (each playing to their strengths) even though this initially seems like duplication and more expense?

In a business setting, a project room or project retrospective workshop comes to mind. Anyone tried different combinations and what were the results? This links in a bit to a previous post on generating quality ideas.

Picture credits: first and second.

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