I originally titled this blog, “The Spiritual Discipline of Journaling.” Journaling can be great. I have journaled now for several decades. Journaling, though, can be intimidating to begin. Many people think that only accomplished writers can journal or that journaling should be something impressive and beautiful. I think an easier way is to consider “doodling” instead. I am using a broad definition here. Doodling, as I use the term, is any scribbling of thoughts on paper (or computer).
I have learned over the years that I am a very undisciplined thinker.
In a very short time, my mind can go in a hundred different directions. Generally, I can’t remember what was going through my mind thirty seconds ago. I have also learned that my thinking lacks precision. Only when I commit my thoughts to paper do my thoughts show themselves to be either clear or unclear. The very act of thinking on paper often brings clarity for me where there was only confusion beforehand. I have even come to find that some of my most honest, passionate prayers are prayers that I have written. We need the discipline that comes with putting pencil to paper. If I am honest, the main reason I do not doodle on paper is laziness. Great growth can come our way as we resist this laziness, particularly when we create a new habit like doodling, and exercise this habit over many years.
Practice the discipline of doodling!
You can doodle any way you want. You can doodle with a list or with a paragraph. D
I have used my own forms of doodling in every way imaginable. I will often study the Bible with doodling by writing out what I have learned from the passage that I just read. Inevitably, I get ten times more out of doing this than if I simply read the passage and think about it for a while. I use doodling to organize, brainstorm and to prepare for teaching. For me, on paper is always clearer than just in my mind.
Here are a few suggestions for those of you who want to try doodling:
- Don’t worry about what your doodling looks like. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or form. You can always make it look pretty later if you want to. The point is just to get your thoughts out of your head and use the process to go deeper in your thinking.
- Keep your doodles private so they can be honest doodles.
- Doodle about everything and anything.
- Doodle on thought-provoking questions.
- If helpful, journal through doodling. By this, I mean, use doodling as a means for deeper personal reflection (this, in reality, is what journaling really is!) Journaling (or doodling) need not be polished, in paragraphs, or complete sentences. Be free.
- Use doodling as often as possible and as creatively as desirable.
- Realize that doodling takes discipline. Push through and do it anyway.
Finally, consider doodling right now. Doodle on the question “what does God think of me?” Get started practicing the discipline of doodling.