Buy my Books!

The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →
Watch a FREE video sample →

The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →

Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
Read more about Mike →

SIGN UP! Get the Rohdesign Newsletter.

« UX Mad: A New User Experience Conference in the Heartland | Main | The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 5 - Promo Video and Final Cover Design »

The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 6 - Manuscripts & Videos

Sketchning Shot

IN THE HEAT of this summer, I'm hard at work keeping my Sketchnote Handbook project moving. It's quite hard work, in fact, with so many moving parts. But, slowly, the manuscript is being written and the video seems to be accelerating even more quickly. Here's the latest update:


The biggest challenge of any book is the manuscript. In my case, finishing the manuscript is only halfway to completion, but it is critical because it directs what I will illustrate and drives the video I'm creating at the same time.

I feel good about where I am on the manuscript. My goal is to write all the way through the entire book, in first draft form, by Monday the 9th and I'm on track to achieve it. However, even feeling good about this momentum is balanced by the nagging feeling that I'm always running behind.

Often I feel I should be farther along, or that the draft wasn't quite tight enough. Or worse yet, the feeling I'm forgetting some hugely important piece of wisdom in the text. While not pleasant, feeling behind is not such a bad motivator to keep on working hard at getting the words right.

Fortunately, I have a great editor, who sharpens my words while keeping them true to my voice. She challenges me on assumptions and catches me using cliches. Her hard work makes me look good.

Of course, it's not easy to open a revised Word document, filled with edits and comments. But, as I've had to defend my ideas and have seen how the prose always gets better, I've embraced this process. It's definitely making the work better and that's the key.

I've also shifted to writing all the way through my manuscript for the book — at least the first draft and there are a couple of reasons why:

1. The video we're shooting in the next few weeks depends on the most current writing I can offer to make it work. I have my friend Gabe scripting the video and he needs my latest input.

2. I've come to see that a unified, compelling and sensible set of illustrations for this book requires I have the manuscript created as a whole — even if it's not final. Initially, I thought a chapter at a time would work best, but now I see that having an entire manuscript, ready to illustrate or shoot is more valuable.

I have a bit of writing to do, but I'm excited to see the manuscript unfold.

The Video

The Sketchnote Handbook also features a video companion, which I'm responsible for writing, appearing in and helping to produce. This part of the overall project is on track for shooting next week.

Honestly, I'm a little freaked out producing a book and a video at the same time, but have chosen to keep on moving and am trying to not let it worry me too much. The reason I can consider doing this video are the people who are helping make the video happen.

On the video project, several good friends have come to my aid. I'm lucky to have Brian Artka, the one who shot my promo video, filming and editing the entire project. He's so experienced that I can lean on him knowing video will keep on track and look great.

A few weeks ago, I added Gabe Wollenburg to "Seal Team Sketchnote" as a script writer for the video. Because Gabe has known me for years, I can trust him to channel me into a video — something he's done quite a bit of for others in his career. Once again, I'm lucky to have a great friend on my team.

The timing of Gabe coming along couldn't have been better. I was stumped about writing a video script and just as I faced this, Gabe appeared. He loved the project and was available for me to hire as my script writer. He took my rough table of contents for the video, generated a wonderful outline and has crafted scripts which capture the concepts I want to share, perfectly.

On Monday, Brian and I will begin shooting the introductory videos for the project, and on Thursday we're setting up a live event at Translator in Milwaukee's Third Ward, where I'll be filmed speaking to viewers and sketchnoting my friend Jon Mueller as he presents to a local crowd.

On Tuesday morning, Brian and I shot tests in a new space in Brian's building. The space is open, airy and bright with natural light from a bank of north-facing windows. This is the perfect space for the desk and drawing table sets we have planned for the video. Here are a few stills:

Desk shot sm
Shoulder shot sm

I can't wait to see how this video turns out.

Featured Sketchnoters

I'm excited to announce that 15 amazing sketchnoters are partnering with me to be part of the Sketchnote Handbook, and instead of giving away the surprise, I'll keep it a secret — for now.

I will also feature their work where I deconstruct sketchnotes. This section of the book is designed to help readers see sketchnoting patterns they can use in their own work. I'm honored to have such a great cast of sketchnoters helping make this book and video project a community effort.

The Soundtrack

I'm also excited to have another long-time friend, Steve Mork, helping with the soundtrack of the video. He has years of experience creating electronic music with his Somegirl project. I can't wait to see what he creates for the video.

The Clock is Ticking…

2 months from deadline and I'm really feeling the stress, with so many elements of the book in process: manuscripts, research, videos, illustrations and page layouts all yet to come. having a full-time day job, a wife, family and a 3rd child coming in September makes balance it all… interesting, but I'm feeling good.

If you're a praying person, I'd love your prayers. Pray that I'll keep everything moving, that I'll create something useful & valuable and that I will stay healthy under the stress to complete this project.

Spending the time writing my thoughts down has been helpful and therapeutic. Hopefully these words from an author trying to keep it all going will give you insight into what writing a book is like. It's really, really hard work.

Thanks for sharing my journey.

P.S. You can now pre-order The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Handbook Video Edition on - how cool and freaky is that?

Reader Comments (4)

Wondering if you were planning to offer this in either a Kindle or ePub edition? I'd love the ease of keeping the book with me.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Holms

Just breathe Mike! I'm sure it'll be beyond awesome! We just preordered a copy :D

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLilpeanut

Pre ordered on Amazon here in the UK. Love your work and cannot wait for my copy to arrive. Best of luck Mike.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Amy, we are doing a PDF version of the book - we need to because it will be so illustrative (no real ePubbable text).

Thanks Lilpeanut & Martin! I greatly appreciate the support.

July 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.