I took an online course in January that was all about making 2013 what you want it to be, and one of the “assignments” was to doodle. Just doodle. Anything – shapes, colours, mind maps, whatever.
This sounds easy, and possibly fun, but I have a mental block against doodling.
I thought about this prompt for a few days before I actually did it. And then when I sat down with my journal open to a blank page, it seemed so very blank. I couldn’t even think where to start.
I’ve never been a big doodler, but I’ve always doodled the same way. I draw triangles.
Each one is built off a line from a previous one, and I add lines quickly. Each new line has to actually make a triangle – none of these weird, four-sided polygons sneaking in.
But doing my usual seemed, somehow, like not the right way. So, to get over the stalling and stumbling with my doodling assignment, I started with words because I had to get some lines down on the paper. And then I said to hell with it and started drawing triangles.
At first all my brain did was analyze. Is this good enough? What else should I be doing? Why am I so ridiculous about this?
Is there such a thing as a good doodler?
Actually, I think there is, and I think that’s where my reluctance comes in. I used to do this triangle doodling mindlessly – in class, when on the phone, in meetings, etc. I would do it when my brain wasn’t busy enough and I could fill a large section of a page quickly. But that’s all it was for me – something at which to fire the synapses in my brain.
And then I met my husband.
He happens to be an artist extraordinaire. He can draw just about anything, and damn well too. My own skills shrank in the light of his far superior ability and I ceased doing anything “artistic.”
This led me to writing more, I think, but my inability to just pick up a marker or a brush or a crayon and just create stares me in the face all the time.
“I’m an artist just like my dad,” Connor said one day as he was painting. And he’s right. Not because he can draw or has particular skill – that’s not the point. To him it’s about the process, not about perfection. It’s about creating something and then moving on to the next and the next instead of stalling and finally starting and then stumbling over your own insecurity.
The point of the exercise was to show that doodling is actually quite productive. According to studies, we were told, people who doodle tend to retain up to 29% more information than those who don’t. I’m not actually sure if this is true for me. When I doodle, I tune out. I do it because I’m bored, not because it’s an innate tendency. But I still don’t just doodle – I’m always doing something else in my head. Writing, generally.
Eventually, while doing this exercise, I realized I had stopped writing in my head and had ceased judging the triangles as being not a good enough way to doodle. I drew some more and then decided they needed colour, so I added some. But I got bored quickly and stopped.
I had explored doodling. I had given it a chance. I had thought about my own patterns with doodling and (over)analyzed its place in my life. I’ve had this post in draft for two months and still didn’t come up with any really profound revelations except this: I prefer to write.
Do you doodle?