Doodling

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.