Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Doodle!

 Doodling! I used to do it a lot. Before my first computer. Back then I also used to write all of my rough drafts in pencil because I was so afraid of making mistakes in ink, having to retype a page because I wanted to change a word or add a sentence. I was so conscious of wasted paper, ink and ribbon I couldn't bear not being able to erase.  And because I had my pencil hovering over the page as I thought it was natural to doodle.

 But word processors and their magic backspace, undo, redo, cut/paste, changed all of that. I began to live in front of the screen.  And those times when I stopped to think, instead of doodling I watched the blinking cursor or an animated screensaver.

Yes computers freed me from the hyper vigilant harpies that sit on my shoulder shoulding all over my pages.  It tripled my output in the first week!  And doubled that again within a month as I got over needing to immediately fix every mistake I noticed, knowing that I could do that anytime before I printed it.

I had begun to wonder recently if I had lost something significant when I stopped composing stories and essays on paper.  But the aspect of the doodling that got left behind as well had not been part of my wondering.  

Until I heard Sunni Brown speaking in this video over at

While watching it I actually goosebumped as the realization hit me and the wave of memories.washed over me.  Before Sunni Brown was done speaking I was asking myself if maybe I shouldn't get out some doodle paper and as I imagined drawing mind maps of my story world or drafting out designs for bookmarks--especially the geometric designs for embroidery, cross stitch, and needlepoint--I wistfully thought how I liked to color code my notes and thus a mind map in black and white did not appeal much nor did drawing monochrome designs for the brightly colored bookmarks I have imagined.

Then I remembered the set of Sharpie's my sister gave me last summer and which I've only used a handful of times since and then usually for color coding some notes or label stickers.  All business in other words.

When I flashed on the memory of those Sharpies I had no idea that Sunni Brown was a representative of Sharpie, their resident doodle expert and leader of the revolution to de- 'criminalize' doodling.  I didn't learn this until after I had tried for an hour to embed that TED video in this post and being unable to fix whatever was in the code that broke my template, I headed over to YouTube to see if by chance they had put it up there.  

No.  But I found Sunni Brown in various other interviews and was trying to choose among them, but finding none of them as engaging as the one at, I couldn't get committed to any of  them.  Then I came across this gem and decided to use it and a link to the video with a strong recommendation to watch it.

In this video Sunni Brown debunks everything you thought you knew about doodling.  And she does it with humor and pzazz one usually associates with standup comedy.  She is one worked up lady.  She is the Joan of Arc of Doodledom.

She says doodling is not dumb or lazy or rude.  Teachers and chairmen of the boards should stop forbidding or frowning on it.  News journalists should stop using phrases like 'caught in the act' when the camera zooms in on the papers in front of a world leader busily moving pen across a page to find them *gasp* doodling! as this tends to reenforce the perception  that doodling is inappropriate behavior, almost criminal.

But inappropriate is the last thing it is according to Sunni Brown.  Her most salient point being that those who doodle while attending to some form of information intake will retain 39% more than those who do not.

How's them apples, Mrs Holland?!*

What does this have to do with Forays in Fiction you ask?  Well, if my brief reference to my once doodling on my story rough drafts went by too fast for you to notice it's relevance to the theme of these Friday posts, I'll mention it again.

Oh, I just did.

OK then.  All of this preamble for a very brief announcement:  I'm going to start doodling again and I'm going to doodle in ink and in technicolor.  I'm going to make it an integral part of prepping my NaNoWriMo novel in the one month and one week left and then during NaNo I'm going to spend part of every writing session doodling and also writing rough draft by hand.  Maybe not all the time in ink but at least occasionally I will dare to compose with a pen.

Maybe even a Sharpie.

* Mrs Holland was my honors math, reading and science teacher in the second and third grade.  I blame her for 80% of my math anxiety and wasted paper fears shame.  She used to hand out large sheets of newsprint nearly the size of our desk in the last twenty minutes of class and ask us to draw a picture of what we had learned that day--usually some science experiment we had observed.  

I would always have lots of ideas and planned to cover the entire page but would always start in a narrow strip across the bottom and draw small so i would be able to fit it all in.  But I would inevitably run out of time and she would inevitably make some shaming remark about wasted paper when she collected mine.  

Then one day when she handed out the paper she gave me a strip only 3 inches high.  Even my nemesis at school, the one whose good graces were never bestowed on me and who seemed to delight in demeaning me--think Nellie Olson and Laura Ingles--even she, my Nellie, gave me a sympathetic look and commented on the way out of class how that was 'really mean'.

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