Pen Your Thoughts

George Beverley
The Audience Detective
3 min readJul 18, 2021


Do you write stuff down? Or doodle?

Or type it all on-screen?

The secrets of drawing by hand have long been known by artists and the like.

But why is the humble scribble or doodle so powerful?

How can you draw more and do more? Could this improve your creativity and productivity?

Set in stone ✍🏼

Early Writing Tablet recording the allocation of beer, 3100–3000 B.C. © Trustees of the British Museum.

The first writing

3,000 BC, Mesopotamia (now modern-day Iraq), the Sumerians wrote in clay.

They did this by damping the clay into a handy tablet shape then drawing into it (see above).

Clay was versatile…

🗑️ Mistakes could be smoothed over so they could start again.

💾 Clay could be baked to make the writing permanent.

The first ‘pen’ was probably a cut reed — pressed into the clay, making wedge-shaped marks.

This kind of writing is called Cuneiform.

Cuneiform was used to write the blockbuster poem of the time: Epic of Gilgamesh.

𒀭𒄑𒉋𒂵𒈨𒌋𒌋𒌋 (Gilgamesh)

Cuneiform transformed society

It meant writers could:

  • tell stories
  • record business transactions
  • support or sabotage the rule of kings
Milton Glaser’s famous logo for the Big Apple

Soothing and solving

Milton Glaser is a famous graphic designer.

You might not know his name but you’ll recognise his work (see above).

His book, Drawing is Thinking is an essential read if you like your design.

Drawing is more than the act of ink on paper.

  • It opens up your brain.
  • connects thoughts.
  • helps solve problems.

Glaser says:

“Drawing can be considered a form of meditation. Meditation involves looking at the world without judgment and allowing what is in



George Beverley
The Audience Detective

I write about customer research. Day job is with the Insightful UX folks. AKA The Audience Detective and part-time lecturer at Arts University Bournemouth.