I’m a doodler at heart. What exactly does that mean, you ask? It means that I think the best when my hands are moving (knitting fulfills that need, too). It means I have a history of drawing in class so that I could better focus my listening. It means I get enjoyment from sketching, even when the image I turn out is nothing more than meaningless scribbles.
From Sketchpad to Scribblebook
I read a great blog article today on Courage 2 Create by guest writer Cynthia Morris. It was about expanding your creativity through travel and several other creative exercises. In the article, Morris mentions that the act of doodling can help a writer focus when he or she gets hung up during the writing process. I am as guilty as anyone of flipping over to Twitter or Facebook when I get stumped mid-sentence or meet a plot hole (not to be confused with the very similarly debilitating pot hole). But Morris says that doing so switches the focus from inward to outward and it rarely solves our writing problems.
I believe that all forms of art are intrinsically connected, even if it is on a level we may not understand. So the idea that a page of squiggles may help me combat writer’s block isn’t a stretch by any means. In fact, I’m willing to give it a try.
Jump-Starting Your Creative Vehicle
I’m sick of anxiously awaiting my daily writing time, sitting down with high ambitions and writing only a sentence or two before I get stuck and mosey on to the Internet for a diversion. Then, I look up and realize it’s two hours later, I’ve gotten nowhere, I’m dead tired and I just want to hit the sack. That’s not a productive evening. It’s a waste of my time (something I can’t afford to waste).
When my creative vehicle* stalls, my brain knows I need something to jump-start it. The problem is, my hands stray to the wrong place for help. Instead of grabbing the jumper cables and popping the hood, they drag out the floor mats and grab the car vac. A nice clean automobile floor is all well and good, but it doesn’t do jack for making the thing run.
This is where discipline comes in. Yes, I’ve mentioned it before. Maybe if I train my brain to reach for the sketch pad instead of the mouse, then when I hit a road bump I’ll doodle for a couple minutes, get the idea I need, and dive back into my writing. Maybe that careful swerve will help me avoid the major, time-sucking, complete detour.
The Challenge: Wandering and Pondering
I dare you to try doodling this week when you get stumped at writing. Before you sit down at your work-in-progress, get out a notebook and your favorite instrument of writing (electronics don’t count). Set the paper and pen close by, but don’t pick them up at first. Start working, and when the writing stops for a moment, grab the pen and let your fingers wander while your mind ponders. See what happens.
Your level of artistic ability is irrelevant, so don’t get hung up on that, or say you can’t draw, or some other such rubbish. Just let your pem channel your brain and see what you end up with. Start by writing a word or two, if that helps.
Let me know in the comments if you’re going to commit to try it. Then, make sure to report back and let me know how it worked for you. You have five days. I’ll be doing it all this weekend, too. I’ll post the results of my experiment on Tuesday. Until then, happy doodling!
*If the creative part of my brain is a vehicle, then it’s a sports car, more specifically a lime green Camero with white racing stripes.