Doodling. What’s that about? Do you doodle?

If you’re a doodler, I applaud you. No, really. You have mastered the art of letting go. You know how to let your mental hand-brake off, flow in harmony and draw without aim. You are a Zen guru.

If you’re like me and don’t doodle, let’s start so we can groove to some Zen. Let’s give ourselves permission to doodle.

I think I’ve been too uptight to doodle. I must allow myself to doodle more and not be hung-up by my ridiculous notion that some invisible person is judging my subconscious by my tunnel and train, lit candles and rocket and cloud doodles. (Joking!) Side-note: Actually, maybe I’m not joking. I had a traumatic doodle experience years ago at a fancy-pants international advertising seminar. I happily doodled while the presenter spoke. Lovely. A whole page of doodles. Then the person next to me smiled lasciviously at me, nodding at my scribbles. I looked at my doodles – all phallic, I mean the whole page was full of penises, most with scrotums! WTF?

Now I’ve processed that particular professional embarrassment, let me get back to what I was saying. ‘Doodling’ isn’t just one of the most delightful words ever invented. (Dr Seuss has used it with oodles of noodles of doodles and other fun flapdoodle.)

It’s an art form, of course. A creative outlet. Perhaps for some people stuck in monotonous activities doodling is a much needed outlet for trapped creative juices.

I wonder, do you have to be ‘bored’ to doodle for it to count as authentic doodling?

Some people are incapable of just being still and I guess a lot of them doodle when they are not able to fiddle or wiggle.

Have teachers destroyed the therapy / art of doodling by confiscating pencils from doodling pupils? Or have they made it an artful act of rebellion?

When does a doodle become an artist’s sketch? Eh, dunno.

If you doodle, what things to do doodle? Are there certain times you find yourself doodling? Do some people sit down especially to doodle? That would be meditation then. Does that intention mean it’s not really doodling? Is doodling just an undervalued pastime that eases crushing boredom while on the phone or otherwise ‘trapped’ somewhere?

Has doodling by people in dungeon-like prisons prevented insanity? And does scratching the passing of days on a prison wall count as doodling?

Do doodles often inspire new ways of thinking, new pieces of art, new adventures, new engineering designs, new buildings, new websites, new ideas?

What about tagging and graffiti? Is graffiti al fresco, feral doodling? The mild-mannered doodle taken to dangerously exciting levels by the more anarchistic among us?

Where is the line between doodle and art? Is it a pencil or pen line? Do art gallery owners use the word “doodle” as an insult?

I wonder if what makes a drawing a doodle is that your mind is tuned-out while creating it? And if that’s the case, doesn’t that make doodling one of the finest “in-the-zone” kind of creative endeavours?

Has doodling dwindled in direct proportion to our increasing use of keyboard instead of pen and pencil?

So many questions. Well, why not? I am mentally doodling. You know, doodling is valued enough by humankind to have its own National Day – the next National Doodle Day is 11 February 2011. So make a wee note of that in your diary and be sure to doodle around the date.

The illustration above was doodled by President Herbert Hoover. You can see a fascinating selection of doodles from US Presidents like JFK and Reagan (“All the Presidents Doodles”) here.