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Photo: Jim O'Neil
Creativity

How starting a doodling habit could change your life for the better

For years we’ve been hearing about how the simple act of doodling can improve your memory and brain function and otherwise make you better at what you do. But it isn’t just your brain that gets a boost, it’s your confidence as well.

A new study from Drexel University concluded that adding even short bursts (15-20 minutes) of art or doodling AKA “creative self-expression or art-making tasks” could result in “individuals perceiving themselves as having good ideas and being able to solve problems.” So, you’ll both have fun creating and give yourself a big confidence boost.

Here are some other great reasons to doodle:

Break it down

Author/Illustrator Dawn DeVries Sokol explains that her years of drawing have taught her to look at things differently overall. “Drawing has also taught me patience and has made me look at life around me differently,” DeVries Sokol said. “I now look at objects and break them down as how I would attempt to draw them, even if I don’t have a pencil and sketchbook in hand. For example, I see lines more. I see simple shapes more. Instead of looking at something as a whole object, I see it in pieces. I’ve trained my mind how to draw even when I’m not physically drawing.”

Creativity lesson learned: Using one part of your brain to solve a visual puzzle could help you think differently and ultimately find solutions for unrelated problems.

Use your words (or their words)

If you can’t seem to draw your own idea, using words — even borrowed words or mantras — could help. Mixed media artist Suzee Stanley, Owner of 8 Track Romeo used to sell lyric art and jewelry on Etsy for years “I always chose lyrics that had a positive or fun message which are not always easy to find,” Stanley said. “Some of the best songs have lyrics that don’t really say much of anything. I always chose words that moved me in some way, and I must have chosen well because we sold thousands.”

Creativity lesson learned: If you’re feeling stuck in a project or moment, try to find inspiration outside of yourself. Use a quote or lyric and try using decorative lettering to make it artistic as well as inspirational.

Remind yourself

Novelist Emily Carpenter mentioned hearing a friend talk about “moving out of the problem and into the solution,” and says she might have “morphed her words into the mantra.” Carpenter feels her mantra “is really helpful in counteracting the tendency of my emotions to get all jacked up when I hit a serious bump in the road. I have to literally remind my body, which is reacting physically to bad news, that it’s not the end of the world and life is a series of problems and there will be a solution. And it really works.”

Creativity lesson learned: If you’re more of a word person than a doodler, mantras can help during high-stress moments. Find one that works for you and hang it over your desk.

Keep practicing

It can be frustrating for both artists and business professionals not to be able to automatically or consistently present what they envision. DeVries Sokol uses the drawing analogy to encourage persistence. “I think like any skill, “non-artists” can draw as well. But you have to practice. You have to do it every day. The passion and WANTING to draw will help fuel you to make that commitment.” She admits “Sometimes I have a difficult time starting, but I eventually have to tell myself it’s necessary if I want to improve my drawing skills. I have a long way to go but feel like I’ve already pushed myself further than I ever thought I could.”

Creativity lesson learned: From sketching to creating an outline for the next big idea, the first time is not the charm. Keep practicing and updating your artistic skill set.

Wondering how to become more creative? DeVries Sokol offered some tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid of the blank page. “If that’s a concern, get about 30 sheets of copier paper and draw on that!”
  2. Set aside 10 minutes of every day. Get a book of prompts for ideas/inspiration or just doodle while listening to music.
  3. Try another medium: Try rubber stamping, scrapbooking, or doodling in a planner.
  4. Don’t be so hard on yourself: “Doodling is a great way to get into drawing because it’s more about repetition and letting your mind wander.” Besides, DeVries Sokol says “You may HATE your drawings while others see them as works of art. We are our own worst critics.”

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