Nov 2, 2011

Sometimes people say to me, “OOH, you wrote a book. What’s it about?” When I say “Prayer,” 30% of the people roll their eyes. When I say “Prayer and Doodling,” the other 70% roll their eyes. It’s not a duo that garners respect. For years I’ve touted the meditative, cognitive and educational benefits of doodling. People are not impressed; eye-rolling accelerates.

Doodling was not encouraged when I was a student. I remember it was actively discouraged. “Pay attention! Bobby, are you doodling again? Do you want to go to the office?” If I ever doodled before I was twelve, my seventh grade team-taught science class put a sure end to it. There were seventy students in the class. My friend M. and I were in the back row. We couldn’t see very well. So we played Hangman. I’m sure we were using some giggly pubescent word when the big hairy arm of the guidance counselor grabbed the paper and escorted my friend and me to the hall. He had seen us through the door being less than attentive. (Maybe we were trying to pay attention with our hangman diversion.)  But my capture by the authorities prevented me from future marks in my notebooks other than words from the teacher’s mouth or from the blackboard.

In college I was more adventuresome. I took notes in clouds and in diagonal clumps on the page. Color became part of my note-taking and highlighting in textbooks. Clouds, clumps and color were a way to keep my attention and to organize the material.

Alas, I’m not the only person on the planet who espouses the benefits of doodling. Doodling has merited a TED talk. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED talks are presentations under 18 minutes on topics deemed worthy of sharing with the world. Sunni Brown‘s six-minute TED talk on doodling is all over the net. Here is the link. Note: It has an R-rated line or two, so listen before you share it with an eight-year old. Thanks, Sunni, I feel validated and vindicated.


  1. I, for one, am glad you combined doodling and prayer! This method has enriched my prayer life very much! Each month I print out a blank calendar and post it on my frig. I place a word or phrase in each day after daily prayer. On the edges of the calendar, I put the names of those I pray for. At any time, I can compose the most beautiful prayers to God by combining the phrases in unique ways. I’m more faithful in praying for others, too! Thanks for sharing your talents with the rest of us, Sybil!

  2. Thanks for sharing that idea, Jill. What a great way to use the calendar. I like the idea of combining the words and phrases and putting the names of the people on the side. It sounds kind of like the magnetic poetry you can put on your frig. Except these are prayers! Peace to you.

  3. I love your post, would you mind if I repost it on my web site, with create of course ? Thanks

    • Sure, that’s fine. Sybil

  4. I have been going through some struggles in the last year or so, my husband died, my family was in their own personal turmoil. I joined a church and then after a few months I quit. Prayed and didn’t get any answers that I recognized. No one called or asked where I was, was I really there in the second row every Sunday? I have ADD, which all my life I took as extreme enthusiasm.

    I saw this in a women’s retreat last year and enjoyed it. Although I have down oils, drawing has not been easy for me. But I am going to try again,
    it popped into my head, and I found you site. Wish me luck!!!


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