Karen Romano Young, I Was A Kid
Karen creates science comics and writes and illustrates books about science for kids.
“Most of my notes break down into two categories: doing research in books or online, and taking notes in lectures or conference presentations.
“When I take notes in either setting, I try to categorize what I’m putting down and to chunk it. I once learned to divide my notebook in thirds lengthwise, so that I had a big margin on the outside. I’d take notes wildly on the inside 2/3 of the page, then go back and read it over and write down keywords. This let me find notes easily later. It was also a great exercise for realizing what I had actually recorded, because I’m one of those people who can just go crazy writing everything down.
“Even though I don’t divide the notebook page anymore, you can still see that I make headings that stick out on the side, and under that I take notes about that heading. That’s what I mean by chunks. It’s important to me to go back afterwards and circle things or ask questions or highlight people’s names.”
“It’s also important to me to doodle. I loved the notebook with the hats on every page. I could do something different with every hat! And drawing helps me listen better, to stay in the room instead of drifting off mentally.”
How do notes transform into a piece of finished art or writing?
“Information shapes itself into sketches or shapes for me. In the “Clouds” page you can really see this happening. I decided that the pieces of information I was going to share about cloud research would be puzzle piece shaped clouds… and then I had to chunk the information again to fit inside those cloud puzzle pieces.”
“Often when I’m putting together a comic or illustrated page I’ll take notes in chunks based on their subjects, and ask questions or make comments or doodles in the margins. All of these things, I’ve realized, are part of the process I go through when I decide what to show or tell about a subject.”