A while ago I took a questionnaire to find out which of the VARK http://vark-learn.com/ main learning styles was my preference. The four options are:
- visual – people like graphs, maps, charts and plans.
- auditory – people like discussions stories, guest speakers and chat
- reading/writing - lists, notes in whatever format (printed or on screen)
- kinaesthetic - senses, practical examples, case studies, trial and error
I have a piece of paper above my desk divided into areas like: editing, writing, promotion, events, submitting, so I know what I'm doing in each of those areas of my writing during the year.
I love a map. One of my favourite maps is the London Underground map – it's my favourite because, strictly speaking, it isn't actually a map. It's not geographically accurate representation of where stations are or where the trains run. They decided to distort the centre making the stops appear farther apart so it was easier to read, and the outer spiders legs of the tracks are much shortened in comparison, meaning it can all fit onto one small chart. Clever eh! Because I'm so into this, I went to the Transport for London shop and museum and bought a geographically accurate tube map, see picture below. It shows where the tube lines actually run, and where the stations actually are, and it looks nothing like the little tube map. As you can imagine, I enjoy this, very much indeed!
I've also used spider diagrams to plan parts of my books, or brainstorm ideas about characters. I've also used cut out pieces of paper to reorder chapters and sections in a book after Excel and Word just wasn't working for me. Somehow it always has to be done long hand with pieces of paper. Moving the pieces of paper about on my desk simply makes it click for me, unlike moving bits of text around spreadsheet cells or around a Word document.
I also enjoy a good plan too! If I have a project I'm working on I like to break it down into manageable steps or stages, work out approximate time scales for each one, and then monitor progress as I move through the plan. I do this when I'm working on books, having the living room floor replaced, thinking about buying a new car, whatever really if it requires more than one step to complete. I love a plan!
I worked out exactly how much our last car cost over the 4 years we owned it. Purchase price, all insurance, MOTs, services, repairs, breakdown cover, road tax, and then deducted the final price we sold it for. Not sure why I did it, but I felt it needed doing. I told my 'uncle' about this – he's not really an uncle, he was Dad's best friend when they grew up, so he's always been my 'uncle' – and he said simply, 'That's exactly what your dad would have done.' It feels a bit something, doesn't it,a bit listey / calculatorey / something, but I just had to work it out, and really enjoyed the result. I did the same for my old laptop, working out how much it and the repair insurance had cost per week during the 9 years I'd had it. Here's the important part you need to understand: NO ONE ASKED ME TO DO THIS; I DID IT BECAUSE I WANTED TO.
My next strongest preference is reading/writing. This didn't surprise me; I've loved reading since I was a small boy – always preferring to disappear into a book than play skateboard with my brother, much to his chagrin. I like to learn about new things by reading and make hand written or typed notes that way the learning seems to stick better. I prefer reading printed things, rather than on screen, but as I'm also a pragmatist, I read a lot of things on screen too, but have taken to highlighting and adding comments boxes, so I 'interact' with the text and I think that helps more of the learning stick too.
I love a list. I have a weekly to do list and a monthly to do list, and also a quarterly, yearly to do list. Putting something on a list means it will happen. If it's not on the list it is unlikely to happen, unless I schedule it to happen. So, I love a list!
Which of the senses do you think you use most when learning?
Please comment on this blog including your email address in the comment, so I can get in touch, by midnight GMT on 10 April for a chance for two people to win one of my ebooks. My book shelf is here http://www.liamlivings.com/stories.html
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx