You do know I like to doodle, don’t you? It helps me concentrate, listen more intently and relax. Today, Frog on a Dime is delighted to have the Doodling Duchess–children’s author Monica Harris–as a special guest. If you too doodle, you’ll enjoy it. If you do not yet doodle, you’ll want to try it once you’ve read what the Duchess has to share.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN DOODLING?
I have always been a visual person. Colors, shapes, and patterns intrigue me. When I was in school, I often found myself doodling on the edges of my papers. This was especially true when sitting through a lecture that didn’t challenge me visually. You know, those lectures that keep the same slide up for 15 minutes before changing to the next one. Ugh! By doodling, I found my mind better able to focus on what was being said.
During my teaching career, I learned how visual cues and colors helped students recall materials better. I encouraged my students to doodle and use different colored pens to take notes. It was quite entertaining to see what teenagers came up with!
More recently, I participated in a Zentangles© workshop. It’s a technique of creating black and white doodles using structured patterns. While intriguing, I felt it lacked the playfulness of color that my mind needed. That’s where my journey into meditative doodling began!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MEDITATIVE DOODLING?
As I tell my workshop participants, doodling is different than art. With art, there’s a preconceived image in your head. The process involves getting the image onto some sort of medium like canvas or paper. Where people get frustrated is when the art they create does not match the image in their head. This does not create relaxation or mindfulness! Doodling, on the other hand, does NOT start with a preconceived image in your mind. You create an image on the paper organically – step by step without a specific goal. This frees the participant from pressure, anxiety, and self-doubt.
For meditative doodling, I ask participants to close their eyes. A question, emotion, or situation is described for them to contemplate. They are to imagine colors that come to mind and shapes – nothing more. Then, we dive into the doodle session!
WHAT DOES DOODLING DO FOR YOU?
For me, doodling is a meditative state. The rest of the world seems to melt away as colors and patterns fill the page. It’s a conscious choice to put my brain in ‘time out’; to breathe and only focus on colors and shapes.
I also doodle when I have a problem that I cannot figure out. Science has shown that the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are exactly the same! The brain spirals through an endless loop looking at the same ‘possible’ solution over and over again. By occupying it with doodling, a solution often presents itself.
DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE ARTISTIC TO DOODLE?
Absolutely not! I’ve had several participants say, “But I’m not artistic” but, in the end, are completely surprised at the images they create. Doodling is for fun mindfulness, not for submitting to the Louvre!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN DOODLING?
Try it! Take out some markers, colored pencils, and paper. Try a simple starter exercise by scribbling big overlapping lines on the page. See how you’ve created small little pockets of space? Choose one pocket and doodle in a pattern. Then, go to the next pocket. Before you know it, you’ll have filled up the page! And, just like yoga, it’s YOUR practice – do not judge it by what others can do or even what you hope to do in the future. Enjoy that one moment in time.
HOW MIGHT DOODLING BENEFIT A WRITER?
Freeing your mind in a doodle has multiple possibilities. It could allow a new story line to ‘pop’ up. It might offer a solution to your protagonist’s problem. Doodling might offer insight on a character’s psyche. If you have a protagonist that’s filled with angst, go into their mind and doodle. A character that’s suffering through a sad time would have a totally different doodle. If your main character is a penguin, it would be extremely entertaining to consider how it would doodle and what design it would create! (Okay…this entertains me…I’m going to go doodle!)
Thank you for your time today, Duchess. Happy doodling to you!
Monica Harris is the author of 30 children’s books and more than 200 articles for children. She also teaches guided meditative doodling under the name The Doodling Duchess. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.
Her writer website is: monicaharrisbooks.com
When you draw and pay attention to what is, it’s a form of being present. This inspires the mind, makes it happy, and the heart wants to express more. ~ Natalie Goldberg, Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing