I used to doodle a lot, especially when I was working at the University where I seemed always to be taking Minutes for the (terminally dreary and seemingly endless) departmental meetings. I never let anyone see my notes for those Minutes before they were all neatly typed up and distributed—partly because they were covered in elaborate doodles and scribbles—and partly because I tended to add my own thoughts on the conversations to my draft pages (some of which may well have got me sacked if anyone else had read them . . . )
Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time I think I used doodling as a way of keeping myself ‘present’ in those meetings. I found if I just sat and listened my mind would invariably wander off (no doubt looking for my ‘happy place’) and I wouldn’t hear a thing that was being said (or I would become so bored I would find it a real struggle to not run screaming from the room) but oddly enough, if I drew on my pages as I listened I was more able to attend to the talk, remember who said what, and note down all the salient points.
It seems I knew what I was doing. I recently read that research has now determined that people who doodle during meetings or through phone conversations can recall up to 29 percent more information afterwards than those who simply take notes. It is also believed that the seemingly distracted scribbling also aids creativity, helps us to mull over problems and promotes ‘thinking outside the box’. Who knew?
Although I don’t need to doodle my way through meetings to keep my sanity any more, I have started using doodling to ‘kick start’ me when I am in a sketching slump. When I am tired or tetchy or in one of those I-really-want-to-draw-something-but-I-can’t-decide-what-to-draw kind of funks, I just pick up a pen and a sketchbook and start scribbling. And it works. It gets my creative juices flowing, there’s no pressure to create a ‘final piece’, and it’s fun.
Nor am I alone in my enjoyment of this simple pastime. Check out this Doodlers Anonymous website to see some seriously fabulous and artistic doodles.
Or better still, spend some time doodling yourself and upload one of your own . . .