On Drawing, Doodling, and Wasting Time

This week I paged through a Moleskine journal that I filled 2 years ago, and was instantly transported back to precise moments I’d made those tiny line drawings and loose watercolor illustrations. A realization struck me as I admired the time-consuming work of a younger me: Since then my journal has become almost exclusively written, scribbled processing… more diary, less sketchbook.

Which is fine, except that’s not completely who I am. My journaling used to be a holistic record of my experiences, both written and drawn. But gradually I’ve stopped drawing my thoughts and impressions. Stopped my beloved embellishments, experimental typography, and contour drawings, large and tiny, serious and silly.

Why did I stop?

It’s a matter of time, for me. It’s discipline. I’ve resorted to hurriedly jotting down how my day went before zonking out at night, and that is all.

Thankfully, I’m not dead yet. History has shown I can learn. I can change….

Devoting the proper time to doodle is something I intend to not let slip for long periods again. But it was hard starting again at first. Three days ago I started drawing the maple tree in our back yard (we call her Mabel), and immediately I could feel the old familiar yammering in my head screaming that this was a waste of time.

Yes, it’s a struggle, and I won. On Facebook I shared my battle cry:

“Left hemisphere, listen up: Drawing is NOT a waste of time. In fact, what I drew tonight will remain after my time here is done.”

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Artists, we all have old voices to fight… I retorted to mine with, Shut up and let me draw, but mid-sentence I changed it to shut up and watch me draw. Ha.

It’s true. Ever think about what endures through history? Art, writing, and creative innovations are what speaks to the rest of us even hundreds of years later. Not much else survives. And when you factor in the joy of making something that didn’t exist before, it’s a clincher: Time spent making something, and making it with all that you are, is not only “worth” it– it’s all we leave behind.

Better listen to those voices. Make stuff today.

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