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Doodle to tap creativity and focus

As mentioned in my post “Happiness Projects for Your Writing Life,” I was introduced to doodling by my massage therapist who decided to doodle every day for a month as part of his Happiness Project.

More recently, I learned that practicing doodling while learning new information can increase our retention and understanding of that information by up to 40%. I’ve never really been a doodler, but I wanted to test this idea at a recent two-day seminar to see if it really worked.

It took me awhile to get the hang of doodling while taking lecture notes. I’m not a “natural” drawer so I had to consciously thing of things to doodle at first (I started with a lot of hearts). It felt good and I was having fun. I also did seem to be more aware of what the speakers were saying.

According to Wikipedia, A study published in the scientific journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation. The study was done by Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, who reported that doodlers in her experiment recalled 7.5 pieces of information (out of 16 total) on average, 29% more than the average of 5.8 recalled by the control group made of non-doodlers.

To test this idea some more, on the second half of the second day when I was exhausted, I didn’t doodle. Before I knew what happened, I’d spaced out and missed about 20 minutes of the lecture. When I woke up from my temporary coma, I began doodling and taking notes again. I managed to stay awake and aware for the rest of the day.

In case you missed it, learn more interesting facts about doodling and how to use it to enhance your writing, in Carly’s recent post, “Doodle Your Way to a Story.”

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