I have a confession.
I like to doodle.
I remember back in Norway, I once got in a fight with one of my friends because he made me feel bad for not paying attention to the sermon in church. Apparently he was better disciplined than I, for he listened and took notes while I simply doodled and imagined. I’m not sure what I would say now, but I realize how long it’s been this way.
A friend asked me the other day if it helps me or distracts me to doodle in class– and my response was thus: “When something gets in my head, I’ve got to get it out and down on paper or it’s gonna stick around up there.” That was my response, verbatim, ya know, cause I can actually remember exact quotes from my person. (PS- That was sarcasm. I have terrible memory. But that the gist of what I said.)
– I doodle in the margins of my notebooks, on the backs of receipts, on the church bulletin, in little journals here and there, whenever, wherever I can, whenever wherever an idea hits me.
– Sometimes it’s merely squiggles, something to keep my body active while listening to a lecture.
– Sometimes it’s little figures, like a weird creature or person, and that’s usually when I’m bored and I need a little monster to get me back on track.
– Often it has to do with something that’s been running around in my mind– a book idea, a theological/ministry though, song lyrics. I consider words to be part of my doodles as well.
It’s partially because I am a Renaissance man, or at least I aspire to be one. Now, I have little interest in the sciences and other areas that true Renaissance men studied, but I have my own smattering of interests: from film ideas to typography, from personal to-do lists to theological ramblings, from stories to songs and images and more. I’ve had the problem of not being able to settle down and focus on one thing for most my life. My undergrad studies didn’t help that all– my major, University Scholars at Baylor University, basically let me take classes in fourteen or more areas, from Recreational Ministry to Greek to Magazine Editing.
You see, my doodling is my exploration of all the other worlds of interest I have. I write a song, because I still hope to record music at some point. I doodle a story character because I really want to have some books published. I draw out a logo for a church that I would love to help lead someday. And the truth of the matter is… I won’t be able to do all those things, I know. Well, maybe these three things, but there are plenty more doodles in my life that will remain doodles. Little ideas, drawings, hopes and imaginings. But at least they’re down on paper, because my mind is a mess. Maybe they’ll lead to something, maybe they won’t. But for now, I’m gonna keep doodling.
Here is an example of a page out of a school notebook. I know it’s messy. Please don’t judge me. Or do, I don’t care. Doodles!
But before I go, I have to say this. Yes, there are times that I doodle because I’m bored or tired or am not connecting to the class/conversation/sermon/etc.
But more often than not, I am simply feeling inspired.
That’s why I love being in places like communal worship or class discussion, because my brain and my imagination is stimulated. I hope that I can be a pastor or teacher that creates environments where creativity is allowed, encouraged, and desired.
Now, I understand it can be discouraging when you are talking or teaching and a person is drawing away, so I try to still stay engaged. But I promise you, even if I’m looking down or look like I’m day dreaming, my brain is running. Often on the subject, but sometimes on other things. No matter what, I am grateful for those times and places that I get to doodle. I’m glad I did when I was a kid back in Norway. Yes, I know there were probably great sermons I missed out on– but I can still picture some of those ideas and doodles I created back then.
There is research proving that doodling can help you remember information. One of my favorite books, Experiential Storytelling, has a lot on this. When I took a speed-reading course in my undergrad, a good portion was on being creative in our notes. Doodling can be a huge part of learning.
So the next time you see someone doodling, let them doodle. Worlds are being explored, ideas coming to life, imaginations are stirring and brains are whirring with energy. Let them doodle. Or even better– doodle with them! What do you like to draw? Write? Scribble in the margins of your notebook? Think it over. Let me know! Peace.