When Words Won’t Cut It (or The Joy of Doodling)

As a creative, journaling is my go-to practice. Having something to write with and something to write on are the bare minimum absolute essential requirements in my creative toolkit. Writing is my outlet. It helps me process my feelings, navigate my life and imagine my way into new possibilities.

And sometimes writing is wholly inadequate.

There are days when whatever is within me doesn’t want to be wrangled into words. When there is nothing to ‘figure out’ or ‘understand’, when I know that I am full of emotion, deeply stressed or simply weathering a storm, when I know that (like my mom always said,) “This too shall pass,” I need to find another way.

That’s when I turn to doodling.

For example, doodling has saved me on transatlantic flights! I’ve made an effort to become a confident traveler but no matter what I do, I am still an anxious flyer, especially over water. My body goes into worry overdrive. It’s hard to stay in my seat and remember to breathe. I’ve discovered that all of that excess energy can find a home in doodles.

I’ve tried journaling at times like this but there’s too much electricity for cohesive thought and exploring the fear and the flying works me up instead of calming me down. In contrast, making marks soothes my jangled nerves. The simple repetition of shapes is a balm. It’s like giving the scared little monkey inside of me something to do and she loves it. It will keep her occupied for hours!

If you’ve been having a hard time lately, feeling stressed or overwhelmed, grab some paper and a mark-making tool of some kind and give it a try. It doesn’t matter whether you use a pen or a pencil or give markers, gel pens, coloured pencils, crayons or pastels a try. Anything goes.

Just make a mark. And then another. And another.

Notice what happens.

One of my favourite doodling activities is scanning the photos on my phone for shapes to play with. I made it all the way home from the Netherlands by repeatedly drawing shapes inspired by my travels. It allowed me to draw inspiration from a beautiful trip, reminded me of the gifts of the experience and soothed me and my inner monkey. Before I knew it, I was through to the other side, calm, safe and sound.

That’s when I pulled my journal out and started writing again.

(PS If you join the studio today, you’ll gain access to a series of mini creative workshops, including one on doodling!)

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