Doodling for Fun and Sanity (& Other Thoughts on Giving Yourself What You Need)

Did I draw dragons and weird demon creatures and teach myself mystic languages through half the academic classes I’ve ever attended? …Pshhh, no.

Did I go through my notes and worksheets from 6th-12th grade a few years back and put the good examples up on a bulletin board? ….Psssshhhh, NO.

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…Okay, maybe.

But, the more important question is this: did doodling have any sort of adverse effect on my performance in those classes?

The answer, genuinely, is no. The fact is doodling actually helped me.

I don’t exactly have psychological studies to back me up here, but the following is definitely true for me, at least. I’ve learned over the years that if you expect a part of my brain to be focused and taking things in when the subject matter isn’t strictly gripping, you’re going to have to provide some sort of entertainment for the other part that’s got the attention span of a hummingbird. (Are hummingbirds attentive? Heck, maybe they are. If so, my apologies to the hummers of the world.)

But if that five-year-old section of my head can be preoccupied with throwing out a quick quetzalcoatl or translating the lyrics of a song into Enochian, the rest of me is able to calm down and focus on whatever the material of questionable interest is. Taking away that outlet just throws everything way the heck off and leaves me either jittery or falling asleep or somehow – miraculously – both. Don’t ask me how that works. It was real weird.

So what’s the moral here? Basically, if you know your brain works a certain way, roll with it! In my case, for instance, I didn’t care how many grade school teachers got all riled up about how I wasn’t paying attention in class. Fact is, I knew that I was. I wanted to do well, and I knew this was how I needed to go about doing it. When I got into higher levels of education and was lucky enough to work with teachers who understood that about me… hot damn, was that amazing.

Need to have zero lights on while you write? Go for it. Studying impossible when there are other people within fifty yards? Enjoy your solitude. Draw best when you’ve got a solid mix of classical piano and alt indie and dubstep going in the background? Sweet. (And hook me up with your playlist).

The point is, no matter what anyone else thinks, there’s no single “correct” way to learn or be creative. Only you know what works best for you. So let yourself have it, dammit.

What’s your preferred environment for doing cool stuff?

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