While sitting with my drawing journal, gel pens, and Prismacolor markers, I find myself in bliss. As an artist, I can engage in linear and analytical thinking only so long before I start to become restless and grumpy. Then it’s time to take a pen to paper and draw or doodle. And off I go into my bliss zone.
I’ve doodled and drawn for most of my life. In fact, I’ve doodled while taking notes in college, later in business meetings, while engaged in a long phone call, or during a webinar. Some of my best doodles became great drawings that happened while watching a favorite TV program. For me, doodling is a visual form of a stream of consciousness that allows creative ideas to come forward. It also allows me to listen to my inner dialogue, or to others in my environment.
In the past, when I noticed that I was doodling during a business meeting, I’d hide my doodling in order not to bring attention to myself. Would others think I was rude or uninterested? Doodling came so natural to me, that I was usually unaware that I was even doing it. Only later did I find a very cool drawing on my action items list or meeting minutes. Today, I see this as an extension of my creativity. Why on earth would I want to hide it?
Recently, I became curious to understand the value of doodling and wanted to learn more. Was there more to doodling than the calm, “feel good” benefits of it? Yes! Here’s what I found.
In a TED talk called Doodlers, unite!, Sunni Brown, creative consultant and international speaker, demonstrates how doodling increases concentration and boosts creative thinking. She redefines doodling and takes it from the unflattering definition of “to do something of little value, substance, and import,” to the real definition “to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think.” Sunni’s findings show that people who doodle while being exposed to verbal information retain more than their counterparts. Studies show 29% greater retention. In short, she believes that doodling is an “incredibly powerful tool.”
In a Huffington Post article Susan Smalley, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UCLA, says that “doodling is the expression of the wandering mind.” In the state of a wandering mind, “we gain a greater intuitive understanding of ‘who we are’ in relation to our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and actions, to others, and the universe at large.” I certainly consider gaining greater intuitive understanding key to inspired and purposeful living.
Are you a doodler? Maybe your child or someone you know loves to doodle? Why do you doodle? Whether you choose do doodle because it improves your concentration, increases your memory, releases your creative ideas, or simply makes you feel good, I encourage you to continue doing it. If others wonder why you do it, share with them the benefits you gain and suggest that they give it a go. Please share your insights with us and by all means, keep a pen and paper handy at all times!
I wish you a wildly creative and inspiring day!