Who DOESN’T like a decent doodle?
I’m telling you, I’ve come across them everywhere in the past week or so: kids’ bedrooms, on line, public toilets…even my bestie told me they are her new obsession. Before going any further, I should note of course that I am referring to a sort of absent-minded scribbling here, and NOT to the pet name of a boy’s thingy…even if with four sons, hubby and a male cat there are plenty of those around too, to be sure.
I have to confess that I am a prolific doodler. You are bound to find me, pen in hand, slouched over a piece of paper during most meetings or long winded lectures. But, while the sight of me filling the corners of a page with ink might look like I am bored beyond belief (which, admittedly, does happen on occasion), it is often not the case at all. Doodling both chills me out, and helps me concentrate on what is being said. I am not alone in this; perfectly credible studies prove that doodling can help improve focus and the retention of information. Apparently, the act of drawing random lines, flowers and dots expands just enough mental energy to stop a person daydreaming, thus making it easier to stay in the present. It acts as a kind of barrier between thinking too much, and thinking too little. In other words, there is no need to ever feel guilty about desecrating the edges of your notebook.
However, as much as I enjoy a good doodle, I am no less entertained by the range of pop psychology bollocks published on the topic. You can get hints on how to ‘doodle your way to a more mindful life’, and how to use doodles to ‘improve your mood’ or ‘interpret your personality’. According to those gems of wisdom, if I make energetic marks on the left margin I am ‘regretful’ and ‘crave structure’. If I leave zig zags then I ‘seek comfort’, but, if I put an arrow on the end of my zz’s, then I’m ambitious…and if the whole thing is in red then I am an aggressive cow, unless if I am in China, in which case my scribbles suggest that I anticipate future prosperity and joy. Heady stuff, no?
Everybody knows that nothing counts as anything until it has a Wikipedia entry…which doodling does. I dare you. Go, Google. This is where I learned about my favourite bit of doodling nonsense: Zentangle (which, thankfully, doesn’t yet have its own Wiki entry, merely its own website). For those of you who (like me until yesterday) have never heard of Zentangle, let me enlighten you.
The Zentangle Method is a fully trademarked method of doodling. It is, apparently, ‘an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life’. A form of creative meditation, if you like, which increases ‘focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being’…and meditation which works all the better following the purchase of a Zentengle Kit for a bargain basement price of $49. Because, of course, your doodling experience will be vastly enhanced if you use acid free scraps of paper (elevated, in the product description, to hold the lofty moniker of ‘tiles’), and pencils which have been sharpened with nothing less than a German Kum® brand pencil sharpener. And you thought any old sharpener would do! Shame!.
Seriously??? My mind is boggled. Are we living in the first world or what?