Beating Writer’s Block: Doodle


Have you ever sat in a classroom or lecture hall and felt your mind wander? Suddenly, instead of taking notes, you’re doodling in the column, all sorts of weird drawings and designs, whatever comes to mind. It suddenly ends up on the page, with no sense or meaning. (For me, weird creatures and an odd fascination with eyes took up the margins of too many sheets during college.)

The reality is, no matter how interesting we find something we don’t always focus on it entirely out of necessity. The same is true of the stories or poems or articles we write, things we would otherwise enjoy immensely. If you feel like this, like you can’t focus on your work at all, you might attach the term “Writer’s Block” to it. In this post, we’re going to treat your book as a subject you find interesting but just can’t quite focus on; I want you to doodle.

It’s as simple as that. Pick up a pen – not a pencil, nothing you can erase – and a sheet of paper, and just doodle whatever comes to mind. It can be a face, a person, a tree, an animal, a strange design down the length of the page, anything. Do it until you find the doodling too boring, or your attention is drawn back to your writing.

You might find you can return to your work straight away, after a guilty little distraction like doodling in the middle of your working time. I know that when I suddenly felt like I had to pay attention in college, I took better notes than I had been taking before my pen drifted to the margins.

Action Time! If you’re still stuck for words in your work in progress, I want you to look at your doodles and use them as a source for inspiration.

Find a connection between each of the images or designs, and write a short poem or story from them. It doesn’t have to be good; it doesn’t really have to make much sense. Whatever you produce from this is simple a doodle with words, something no one else has to see, something that is written for the sake of the words.

That’s not to say you can’t share your word doodles; they can help serve as an indication to the public that yes, even though progress on your book is slow, you are writing. You can try to make them funny, or bizarre, or scary, aim for genres you wouldn’t write, just to demonstrate that you’re still at work, and you’re honing your craft.

The important thing is that you write as a result of having doodled in the first place. The burst of creative energy that you gain – yes, not spend – in doodling should be put to good use. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted time. The point with this exercise is to get your brain stimulated in different ways. Either you’ll be able to get back to work because you know you should be working, or you’ll be able to write little snippets out of the doodles. You might even be able to then turn your attention back to your work in progress, having found a way to put words down on the page.


About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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2 Responses to Beating Writer’s Block: Doodle

  1. aubreyleaman says:

    Have you ever read “The Creativity Challenge” by Tanner Christensen? Based on your ideas about writing inspiration, I think you’d find it interesting!

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