Friday, March 7, 2014

Zen and the Art of Doodling

It’s First Fridays, and thus, time to get creative… with zen doodling. It’s the latest rage! Okay, it’s not such a rage. More of a low murmur. And Okay, it’s not so new. In fact, it’s as old as the hills. But I’m “down with the kids”, and this is what they’re murmuring about this week: Zen Doodles.

What, you ask, is a zen doodle? (Pretend you asked.) Basically, it’s a doodle. It’s one big, complex, massive doodle. What’s the point of a zen doodle?
  1. Meditative
  2. Stress release
  3. A plotting tool
  4. Cool art to fill the pages of your journal.
It’s meditative, because it helps you to exercise moving from constraint to freedom. The only constraint is the page on which you’re doodling. Then you slowly add constraints – an outline of my hand was my constraint in this doodle (below). Then you free up again by doodling in one portion of it, then add constraint – a curve, a flower petal, a line – big and bold within the constraint of the hand, then within that constraint, you add another layer of free-form detail. (This, by the way, is a LOT like plotting a novel.)

It’s a stress release, because it requires very little attention. I did the hand while having coffee with the LWDC (Ladies Who Drink Coffee). As we chatted, I doodled.

It’s a plotting tool. I suffer (suffer?) from Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. – an ugly, pejorative term that doesn’t really describe what it is to have ADD. I prefer to think of it as Attention Diversity Dilemma. Sure, one of its less pleasant side bars is the inability to focus – on stuff that other people want you to focus! I’m perfectly chill with focusing on what I want to focus. Sometimes I need to employ strategies… like zen-doodling. I write. My mind wanders. I doodle. I strum my banjo, (always close at hand), and then I turn back to writing. I have a goal of 1,000 words per day. That’s just four pages, approximately. I can do that – in and around Attention Diversity Dilemma. Would I be more productive without A.D.D.? Maybe. Who knows, but I’m certain I would be far less creative.

Here’s a little video book trailer I put together for one of my off-road books, (another hazard of A.D.D. – going off-track genre-wise). The entire book trailer is just one big giant zen-doodle! While writing the book, I created pictures – still shots of scenes that were playing in my head – then I used my words – a free-form expression of what I hoped to incorporate into the characters, the plot, etc., into the creation of the pictures. The zen doodle is the plot! I hope you enjoy the trailer, even if the book might not be exactly your cuppa tea. (Warning: It's young adult, paranormal, not cozy.) The book I'm writing now is a sweet romantic comedy loosely based on the play, Cyrano DeBergerac, by Edmund Rostand. I'll try to post some of the zen doodles on my blog at as I journal the plot... soon. 

So, the next time you sit down to coffee with friends, pick up a pen, grab a piece of paper… and zen doodle. You never know where it may lead you.


  1. Love, love, love this post, Sofie. And Zen love doodling. I know ... that's a lot of love for so early in the morning, but I doodle all the time and it's nice to know I'm not alone. Mine are nowhere near as creative as yours. For some reason, I almost always start with an eye. I hope no one analyzes that and tells me something I'd rather not know about myself.

    1. I KNOW! Eyes are fun, creep, "windows to the soul". They say so much about other people and are a great place to begin zen-doodling. In fact, I think I'll join you this morning. The "eyes" have it! :)

    2. I'm not a doodler, except that I write in shorthand which looks like doodling to some. This Zen doodling sounds like fun, though, and maybe I'll give it a try.

  2. I'm a needle and thread woman these days but I did my share of doodling in high school - especially during Chemistry class. Sandy, I have kept my drawings of eyes as well as some of the psychedelic doodles, but I stopped all that when I started writing. I write my first drafts in longhand. That seems to answer the doodle need. Your doodles are spectacular, Sofie. Kay, I wish I had learned shorthand.

  3. Sofie--
    I love this post and your beautiful doodles. You are such a creative lady and i especially love your interpretation of A.D.D. Keep writing and keep doodling.