I’ve done 76 doodle-a-days and doodled-a-day everyday (well, most days) from 24 Jan 2015. You can find most of them on my Instagram feed. I did my last random doodle on 19 April 2015, and I’ll get to why I stopped in a moment. Here’s my thinking, process and what I’ve learned so far.
I began doodling everyday because I had this sweet A5 recycled comic paper book lying around that looked like it needed to be doodled in everyday. I had read that disciplines like this help a lot, so I gave it a bash – and it was awesome! A small, recycled blank page, part of a book of similar blank pages, to be drawn on with a ballpoint pen, undauntingly presented itself every morning to let me start my creative day – sometimes with absolute shit. The process got stuff out there. It got my imagination ticking. And because I set myself a time limit of 15-30 minutes, the drive to create a masterpiece vanished. I felt no attachment, and a doodle ranging from garbage to brilliant popped out each day. I had fun. I learned new words. I stretched myself. I didn’t wait for perfection to arrive. I made some people smile and look forward to my doodles. I inspired others to do it. And I found the best results came from waking up wanting to do it.
It has been great fun to create non-responsive content – purposeful creation, rather than reactive creation (taking photographs of dingy alleys in the Durban CBD vs ‘oh look there’s a nice sunset, let me take a photo’). And it’s been great to get into a routine of doing this. When I feel the need I’ll start doodling a random word a day again – I still have half a book to finish. When I was drawing more than just the doodle a day, it helped a lot more. I had so many ideas, so much fun and would’ve loved to just kept on drawing all day. It inspired me to create stories and think creatively – my imagination was on fire. I loved it and I want to get back to drawing a lot more, but not right now.
But the process made me realise more. I’ve accumulated 76 doodles of random words over 3 months. But exactly half-way through my doodle book I decide to stop in order to focus on accumulating some other things – things that aren’t quite so random. Anything accumulated can be powerful – doodles, photographs, essays, blog posts, albums, illustrations, supporters, time with friends, products, skills, knowledge, times of meditation, stretching, exercise, money. We must choose what to accumulate. We automatically accumulate whatever we do at work – we get better at it, faster, and hopefully this makes us enjoy it more. But then there’s our spare time: Learning guitar? A new language? Taking photos? Meditating? Painting? Doodling? Writing? What are you accumulating? What would you like to accumulate? A little everyday, or every week can turn into a big something. It’s kind of like compound interest.
Whatever it is, the more accumulative time you put into doing it, the better you’ll get at it, the more rewarding it will be and the better the results will be. I learned how to snowboard a lot quicker than I learned how to surf, because there was always snow, always a mountain, the weather was always good, there were lifts back to the top of the mountain, and I practiced for 7 hours a day for 7 days. Now with surfing I generally wait for ideal weather, have to paddle out after catching each wave, have to wait for a wave that no one else is on, and normally only have enough energy and time to surf for 2 hours every 1 or 2 weeks. The more you do something, especially if you already like it, the more you’ll want to do it and the better you’ll get at doing it. It becomes repetitive and accumulative.
What can you do in 90 days, 365 days, 52 weeks, 10 years – if you spent a little bit of time everyday, or every week, on it?
That being said, I’ve found myself wanting to do too much and thus spread too thin, which means the accumulative affect wore off. So I’ve stopped doing some things (some for now, and some for good), as there is only a limited amount of time each day to pursue the things I actually want. Paying to learn to code iOS apps when I would do 1 tutorial a month wasn’t worth it; being a chairman wasn’t worth it; thumbing through my Facebook feed multiple times a day wasn’t worth it – at times there are more important things to do, and at times you have to choose what you want to do. Sure every now and again I do things that aren’t accumulative, but then I’m okay with not getting better at them – like surfing, skateboarding, playing squash, and trying new gluten-free and vegan recipes. Not all things you do regularly need to be income generating or productive – reading fiction, baking, meditating or surfing is good for your soul and helps you do everything else better. Doodling everyday was like this. But now I get to focus a bit more – planning our 4-week Euro trip, learning Italian, writing a book, and writing more in general.
Here’s my list of things I want to accumulatively do:
Obviously I can’t do it all, get better at it all, and enjoy it all. So you gotta choose.
Update 4 March 2016: Based on what I’ve learned doodling random words everyday for a prolonged period of time, I’ve published a Skillshare class on the benefits of doodling random words, and made a book containing all 150 doodles. Here’s a post that explains more.