Creativity Exercise: Zentangle

A recent Science article reports that “only a few [colleges and technical schools] focus on the advanced analysis and creative, thoughtful presentation of geospatial data involved in cartography.”

I focused many of the earlier posts on this blog on creativity (see “Creativity” in categories on the right-hand side bar) and my book GIS Cartography: A Guide to Effective Map Design includes a chapter on creativity right after the introduction. That’s how important it is.

A simple and effective way to train your brain to be creative is to do short exercises as a regular part of your daily work routine. These can range from 1 minute doodles to 5 minute lego constructions but the key is to do them daily in order to improve your ability to come up with original solutions to all the problems that come up during the day. It’s not just special people that can be creative, it’s all of us if we just take the time to hone the skill. In fact, it goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking skills, with one improving the other and vice-versa.

While there are lots of ways to practice creativity, I discovered a new technique just the other day called zentangle. It’s just basically doodles on steroids. You can buy some zentangle books or check out a video, or just create repetitive doodles from your own imagination. Side note: ever do something and then find someone else has put a name to it and commercialized it? I used to “zentangle” as a teen. I’d fill up entire pages with parallel curved lines to create patterns anytime I had an idle hand. So I’m just saying-I thought of it first. :)




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