Doodling is one of my favorite forms of of barnstorming, er, I mean brainstorming…
When it comes to brainstorming are you a doodler or a documenter? In a meeting, do you instinctively reach for the dry-erase marker and head on up to the whiteboard – with lines, boxes, and stick-figures soon littering the entire space? Or do you prefer to sit down in front of a monitor and list out all the steps, nuances, and points of your idea? (The Enterprise Mobility Forum)
Doodler & List Maker
You might have already guessed that I’m a doodler. I make no bones about it. My ink spills long before I find what I’m looking for, much less in detailed lists and steps and outlines. Usually…
Actually, I’m both a doodler and a documenter, or – as I tend to describe it – a doodler and a list maker. Some brainstorming calls for lists, sublists, “what-ifs” (queries) and action steps. Other brainstorming calls for a curious pen, a lot of ink and paper, plenty of time to experiment and explore, and the ability to suspend judgment and criticism long enough to discover what the pen wants to show us. And perhaps the best brainstorming of all is when we combine both.
Brainstorming & Barnstorming
The Doodler’s Guide to Essex, NY will evolve into a series of user-friendly guidebooks, but it’s still very much in the brainstorming phase. (Actually, the first book focusing on the architecture of Essex, NY is currently being edited, so it’s a little further along than subsequent Essex guidebooks. But it will be released in beta, ready for your additions, subtractions and edits. Ready for your doodles!)
Brainstorming for The Doodler’s Guide to Essex, NY will take place primarily on this website. And in public when we meet face-to-face at events like Essex Day or my standup storytelling night at the Depot Theatre or just swapping stories at the Essex Post Office or enjoying an ice cream cone at the Essex Ice Cream Cafe. Which is what brings me to brainstorming and barnstorming…
That first sentence in this blog post actually wasn’t a typo. Really. You see, I believe that doodling is actually a highly effective means of brainstorming and barnstorming. Both. At once. Wait? I’m confusing you? Okay. Let’s back up.
barnstorm ˈbärn-ˌstȯrm intransitive verb
1: to tour through rural districts staging usually theatrical performances
2: to travel from place to place making brief stops (as in a political campaign or a promotional tour)
3: to pilot one’s airplane in sight-seeing flights with passengers or in exhibition stunts in an unscheduled course especially in rural districts
barnstorm ˈbärn-ˌstȯrm transitive verb
1: to travel across while barnstorming
(from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
So what does barnstorming have to do with doodling? Nothing. And everything!
On the one hand Noah Webster and George Merriam make it pretty clear. Barnstorming is all about biplanes and populist politics. But let’s flex our creative muscle just a bit and imagine that our airplane is powered by pen, paper and imagination instead of gasoline and a propeller. Let’s further imagine that our rural setting is Essex, NY and our brief, theatrical, sight-seeing flights are actually doodles.
You with me so far? Doodling just might be the perfect reincarnation of barnstorming. It’s certainly safer, gentler on the environment and less noisy while being less physically impactful and more mentally impactful. (Yes, I think I made up that word, but it seems to work well enough.) And the quick creative stunts of our doodling instruments offer perspectives (and thrills) we’d certainly have missed without doodling and enjoying others’ doodles. And all the while, our doodles offer a sort of meta-brainstorming about all things Essex. Eureka!
Barnstorming, A Documentary
Barnstormers were interested in experiencing what they hadn’t done before. (Barnstorming)
That quotation is from Barnstorming, a documentary film produced and written by Bryan Reichhardt and Paul Glenshaw. If you’re still with me despite the odds of making it through this endless blog post without becoming woefully lost (or falling asleep), I strongly encourage you to watch the Barnstorming trailer below.