Time-lapse vs Real-time Sketchnoting

As a storytelling tool, a video of sped up sketchnotes with some spoken narration isn’t a bad way to go.

That’s the form that most of my videos take, and that’s even a style of video-making that I teach.

But as much as I like speeding up my writing and drawing so that it syncs up well with my narration, I do worry that I’m doing a disservice to those who are just learning how to sketchnote, by not showing what it looks like in real time.

So let’s balance things out a bit today, and conduct an observational experiment while we’re at it.

Time-lapse vs Real-Time

Here’s what we’re going to be doing today:

First, we’re going to take a look at some sketchnoting in time-lapse form.

I have sped up a long clip so that you can see one hour of sketchnoting in one minute.

First we’ll look at one hour of sketchnoting in one minute, then one minute of sketchnoting in real time.

After watching that, we’ll take a look at another clip of some sketchnotes that I took, but in real time. I will share one minute of sketchnoting as it actually occurred.

I think that each of these types of clips can be valuable to look at, and I’ll be sharing some of my own takeaways, but I encourage you to make your own observations.

What do you notice about the hour of sketchnoting reduced to one minute?

What stands out to you about seeing one minute of sketchnoting in real time?

For the time-lapse sketchnotes, I’m pulling from the notes I took of Elizabeth Gilbert’s interview on The Chase Jarvis Live Show.

The index card sketchnotes I took while listening to an hour-long conversation between Elizabeth Gilbert and Chase Jarvis.

Jump to 2:29 in the video above to see one hour of sketchnoting in one minute.

What did you notice?

I encourage you to jot down any observations that you made.

Next let’s take a look at one minute of real-time sketchnoting, this time from the notes I took of Hugh Howie’s interview on The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish.

Midway through page two of my sketchnotes of Hugh Howie’s interview on The Knowledge Project.

Jump to 3:44 above to see one minute of sketchnoting in real time.

How about that one? What did you notice there?

The Takeaways

Here’s what stood out to me as I looked at each of those clips.

With the time-lapse sketchnotes, the takeaway for me is this:

Time spent just listening and thinking (when you’re not doing any sort of note-taking it all) can be just as important and valuable as time spent drawing and writing.

The value of active listening.

I noticed that there was a decent amount of time with a blank index card in front of me, waiting for the next ideas to capture.

I say here that it can be just as important because it does depend on being an active listener, when you’re always thinking about how the piece that you’re listening to right now connects to the ideas that have come before it.

While I do think it’s important to recognize the value of just listening and thinking, I also think it’s important to not spend too long of a stretch of time without making any marks on the page. That has the potential to build up the pressure, for the next marks to feel like they need to be particularly impactful or insightful.

As with most things, there’s some happy balance there, in which you give yourself time to just listen and think about what’s being said, do some internal processing, and then let that inform what you draw and write.

In the case of one minute of real-time sketchnoting, for me the takeaway was:

Don’t rush your writing and drawing.

Don’t rush your writing and drawing.

I was surprised at how slow it felt to see myself sketchnoting in real time.

It made it feel like sketchnoting is more of a marathon than a sprint, or better yet more of a long hike than a run at all, to the point where a slow and steady walking pace will do just fine.

That gets at one of the potential negative consequences of watching a bunch of my videos back-to-back: for the most part I only show sped up sketchnoting, which can give the impression that you have to be doing it really fast, which is not the case at all.

In fact, rushing your note-taking is more likely to lead to mistakes that pull your brain away from the conversation that you’re listening to and draws your attention to the mistake that you feel like you made on the page.

Some spelling or drawing mistakes are inevitable, but I think they’re less likely to occur when you let yourself slow down.

So in some ways I feel like there are similar messages that come from each of the clips we looked at: that it’s okay to slow down and spend some time just listening and thinking, and that it’s also okay to slow down as you’re actually doing the writing and drawing that make up your sketchnotes.

What else did you notice?

Dig Deeper

Want a fuller deep dive into the development of your sketchnoting skills? If so, I think you’ll enjoy our course An Introduction to Visual Note-Taking:

Reconnect to making marks by hand as you learn to use text, layout, imagery, and color to engage your visual brain.

That course will walk you step-by-step through the process of developing all of the individual skills you need, then you’ll get to bring those skills together into your own sketchnoting process.

You can also explore our full course library here.

I hope you enjoy slowing down and taking a bit more time with your next sketchnoting session!