“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen.”
— Helen Frankenthaler
Have you ever found yourself doodle sketching in the blank areas of a paper? Drawing shapes, patterns, squiggles, or characters while taking notes or doing an assignment?
If you answered yes, that’s okay. In fact, you’re in good company! Researchers have found that a whopping 92% of college students regularly doodle in the margins of their notebooks.
You may have been told that doodling, drawing, coloring, doodle sketching, and scribbling are distractions — idle activities that take us away from our work. Silly things that we do when we’re bored or not paying attention. Meaningless and unproductive behavior.
But that simply isn’t true.
There are many reasons to try doodling — for stress relief, entertainment, even productivity! Doodle sketching is an art with no pressure and no rules. Doodling can help you connect with your thoughts and feelings. And it may be the key to unlocking your inner creativity.
We believe in the power of doodling, drawing, and art without rules — just not in the margins of your term paper. That’s why we’ve put together a fun, new creative expression activity book for doodle sketching. It’s filled with prompts, ideas, and exercises for self-expression and self-exploration, along with plenty of space for your own designs and creations.
You can even start with a sample page!
Doodle is a casual and unfocused way of drawing. You may find yourself doodling while your mind is otherwise occupied — like with a lecture, an assignment, or a phone call.
Doodles can be scribbles, sketches, or cartoons. They tend to be simple, involving characters, shapes, patterns, or abstract designs. And doodles are art! They’re as unique as you, the artist who created them, and they offer a glimpse into your thoughts, feelings, and personality.
Most of the time, no one sees our doodles but us. Because they’re not often shared, there’s no judgment, pressure, or limits. And that’s a perfect formula for creative self-expression!
1. Quiet your inner critic
All too often, our negative self-talk stands in the way of creative expression. When we compare ourselves to others, underestimate our own talent, or worry about being criticized, sharing our artwork starts to feel pretty scary. We may tell ourselves a story that we aren’t “real artists” or stop making art entirely.
But art is for everyone! There are almost 8 billion people in the world, and only one of them is you. No one else has YOUR perspective, YOUR experiences, or YOUR voice.
How you choose to express yourself — and whether or not you choose to share — is entirely up to you. But if a lack of confidence is holding you back, doodling can help. After all, no one has to see your creations, and there are no rules or requirements of any kind. You have complete freedom of expression.
The more you create, the more you’ll discover your own creative voice. And as you get more comfortable expressing yourself, you may decide to try other artistic outlets — or even start sharing your creations. No matter what, it’s you who gets to call the shots.
2. Explore your thoughts and feelings
Look at your doodles. Do you see any recurring themes or imagery? Do you notice any repetitive thoughts or feelings?
Doodles aren’t always as random as we think. At times, they bring ideas and emotions to our conscious mind, where we can identify and process them.
Most of us have thoughts and feelings that exist outside of our conscious awareness. No-rules creativity like doodling, drawing, and coloring is one way to get in touch with them. You may discover beliefs, ideas, emotions, perspectives, problems, and solutions inside of you that you weren’t fully aware of.
Just putting pencil to paper can help you get to know yourself better!
3. Relax and unwind
Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. A few years back, more than 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the U.S. alone — enough to trigger a colored pencil shortage!
And there’s a reason coloring books are so popular. Many studies have shown that coloring, doodling, and drawing alleviate stress and anxiety. They help us relax and tone down our fight or flight response.
You can even make doodling a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is the practice of keeping our thoughts and attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. When you’re fully focused on the experience of doodling — on the sound of your pencil, the feel of the paper, or the repetitive motions of drawing and coloring — it’s easier to prevent wandering thoughts.
Right now, things are challenging for all of us. The pandemic has thrown a wrench in our routines — where we go, what we do, and how we connect to others. Expressing yourself without rules or expectations is a great way to relieve pent-up stress and anxiety. The calm creativity of doodling makes it a valuable coping skill.
4. Improve memory and focus
This may sound surprising, but doodling can make you MORE productive!
Studies have shown that doodling improves memory and concentration. Researchers found that people who doodled during boring phone calls could remember more details afterward — on average, 29% more.
If you find yourself doodling in the margins of your paper while taking notes or listening to a lecture, you may be giving your brain what it needs. Staying focused on something requires a lot of effort and energy. Drawing involves several different parts of the brain, which helps to keep it alert and engaged longer. In other words, if you tend to “zone out,” doodling can help you bring your brain back online.
5. Get inspired with creative thinking
If you struggle with writer’s block or getting started on a new project, doodling can jumpstart the creative process. Giving yourself permission to create without rules or judgment gets the ideas flowing.
Doodling, drawing, coloring, and no-rules art give you the freedom to express new thoughts and explore fresh ideas. Who knows what you’ll come up with?
If you find that doodling does become distracting, try setting a time limit — 30 minutes, for example. Use that time to let your creativity go wild. Then return to your task with renewed focus and energy.
6. Solve problems through critical thinking
“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.”
This quote is popularly attributed to Albert Einstein, one of the greatest critical thinkers of all time. It means that to solve a challenging problem, we need to look at it differently — by trying different perspectives and thinking outside the box. And doodling can help you do just that.
Some of the problems we face are obvious. Some are theoretical, like equations or essay questions. And sometimes, we don’t even realize that a problem exists. Freestyle visual art, like doodling, helps uncover themes and patterns behind challenging situations. With a better understanding and awareness of our issues, we can come up with better ways to solve them.
Our brains are designed to process visual information quickly. Doodling, drawing, and coloring allow us to approach problems differently. The solutions we seek may be at the tip of our pens!
7. Develop and deepen empathy
Doodling can give us a fresh perspective on our problems. It can also give us a fresh perspective on our relationships.
Empathy is the practice of sharing and understanding the experiences of others. It’s putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Like problem-solving, it means looking at things differently — stepping outside of yourself to see the world from a different angle.
Empathy is crucial because it strengthens our connection to family, friends, loved ones, our communities, and the world. And these connections have been challenged by current events — the pandemic, social upheaval, rapid changes, and more.
Doodling is a creative way to broaden our perspective and grow our empathy. When we have a deeper understanding of our thoughts and feelings, we can extend that understanding to others. We can accept each other, celebrate individuality and diversity, unite in love, and stand up to hate. And we can make the world a better place — for everyone!
1. Follow your heart.
With doodling, there are no rules or requirements. You don’t have to have experience or special skills. All you need is paper and something to write with — pencil, pen, crayon, marker, or whatever you enjoy.
You can draw stick figures, geometric patterns, flowing lines, or abstract designs. You can add words, song lyrics, or meaningful quotes. You can make lists, cut and paste, add glitter — you get the picture! There’s no right or wrong way to express what’s in your heart.
2. Get inspired.
Set aside some time to doodle freely. Find a comfortable space and settle in. Get your creative juices flowing by putting on your favorite music, reading an inspiring book, dancing, exercising, or moving your body. Minimize distractions and focus on the experience of creating no-rules art.
You may find it helpful to use doodling prompts or exercises. Check out our new creative expression activity book, or search online for daily doodle sketching challenges.
3. Remember no right way, no wrong way, NO RULES!
Doodle sketching is an art, and it’s as unique as the artist who creates it. That means there are no “good” or “bad” doodles, no negative feedback, and no rules. You are free to express yourself; however, you see fit.
You can keep your doodles in a private notebook, or you can share them with your friends and family. You may even decide to share them on social — if you do, don’t forget to tag us!
Right now, we must stay connected; however, we can. We want to remind you that we are always here to support you!
We invite you to share your art with us. We love to see what you create. Today and every day, we stand with you and for yo