Undo vs. Do-Over: Why I Sketch on Paper

CITEC 901D Module 1 Sketchnotes
(part of CUE Innovative Educator Certificate Program)
I discovered Brush Pens today as I worked on my CUE Innovative Educator Certificate Coursework. Brush Pens are amazing and I realize why I love sketching on paper over digital tools. For me it boils down to the difference between Undo vs. Do-Over.

When I first learned about visual notes, I was exposed to different digital tools. I am not an iPad owner but rather have Samsung Note 2014 which limits me to Android apps. Paper by Fifty-Three was immediately eliminated which seems like the go-to sketchnoting app. I've tried Autodesk Sketchnote and Skitch early on and found myself always returning to pen and paper. My choice isn't a reflection of the tools available on Android but rather a personal choice. There is something about the feeling of connecting a writing utensil to paper that can't be replicated on a tablet. I am someone who wrote most of the first draft of her master's thesis on bond-weight letterhead paper rescued from the recycle bin using my trusty LAMY fountain pen. There's a flow that happens with pen paper that I can't duplicate using digital tools. 

Undo vs. Do-Over
With pen and paper there is no undo or eraser available. You see edits, mistakes, and really ones thinking. Working in an environment populated with undo and eraser buttons was stifling for me because I wanted to perfect everything and as a result it distracted me from the process of constructing meaning. But when I scratch things out, label them, or write over them that is represents my thinking and learning on full display. Life doesn't come with an eraser or undo option. As much as I wish I could undo lessons I've taught in the classroom, it's the do-overs where the powerful lessons reside for me and my students. The process of reflecting what you wish you could undo, planning for the do-over and then implementing it provides the cycle of learning. Even the undo icon represents only half of the process. The ease of the pressing the undo button just paralyzed the entire process for me. It became more about perfecting a sketch which completely defeats the purpose of sketchnoting. This isn't art and I don't consider myself an artist. Rather, I am a constant creator. My visual notes are about the process of creating meaning for myself which is only enhanced with do-overs on full-display. 

Using a Brush Pen for shading.
There is also a sense of permanency one gains with using pen and paper. Permanency is only further enhanced by my use of Moleskine journals and archival ink and then using Evernote to create a digital archive. This leads me to the amazing discovery of Brush Pens. About four months ago, I invested in a 5-pack of Staedtler pens of different sizes. I love the control different sizes provides. One of my pens is dying from use (0.3, my favorite) and armed with a 50% after Christmas coupon from Michaels I went shopping for some replacement pens. I settled on an 8-pack of Pigma Micron pens by Sakura that included a Brush Pen. See the shading around CITEC 901D? Brush Pen. Super-easy and super smooth. Imagine the possibilities with colors! Expect to see lots of do-overs in the future as I incorporate brush pens into my practice.