I have been keeping notebooks for the last 25 years to share my dreams and passions. I have used diaries to put my goals and memories on paper. I have finished writing more than 250 notebooks over the course of my life. Many of them have been unfortunately lost.
One of the earliest notebooks that I have been able to keep and secure was the notebook that I have used to prepare for the university entrance exams (you can see the cover in the next page).
This was from the year 1996. I was staying in a dormitory in Balikesir, a small city on the Western coast of Turkey. I was studying long hours while I was working to help my dad in the small grocery store in our hometown, Ivrindi (a lovely small town in Balikesir).
I had big ambitions and dreams. I wanted to succeed in the university entrance exam to be admitted into the best universities in Turkey. There were more than a million students entering this exam every year and the competition was intense. Therefore, I needed to solve more than a thousand problems every week. This required great determination. Hence, I started with a motivational letter to myself.
I was coaching myself using this notebook. I designed my own study monthly programmes and gave them inspiring titles (such as ‘The Ultimate Mathematics Marathon’ or ‘Social Studies Super-Hero Supercamp’ or ‘Hyper. Active Geometry Club’). I incorporated ‘play’, ’design’, and ’story’ to my weekly study schedules. I ‘branded’ each session to make it more playful and invigorating.
The notebook was, of course, ‘top secret’ – nobody was supposed to see it. I was competing with no one else but myself. I ended up ranking among the top 6 students among 1.5 million in that university entrance exam. Journalists came to my father’s shop for an interview asking me the secrets of my success. I responded: ‘It is all about keeping notebooks to work, play, learn, improve, and to keep track of yourself and your goals.’
Fast forward to year the 2013. I was teaching in London to 500 students at UEA. I felt rather tired after my teachings were over each day. I was just watching Turkish TV dramas in the evenings and I searched for an activity that would be refreshing, therapeutic, and playful. I thought—why not doodle? What better way to refresh and re-vitalise myself?
I ended up creating these 54 signs while watching two episodes (Turkish dramas are incredibly long with each episode lasting more than 2 hours). I loved every minute of creating something new and pursuing an interest. What could you be working on during your next date with ‘your creative self’?