Friday, January 9th, 2015

The Art of Journaling: Doodling to Relieve Writer’s Block


Mandala Doodle Stephanie Smith

Is writer’s block real? What do you think causes it? And what are your favorite ways to move through it? I’m not sure I have experienced it in the way others have spoken about it. When I get stuck on one thing, I simply shift to the next. By working on a myriad of creative projects at any one time, this typically frees up energy surrounding the “block” and permits the mind to relax enough for the ideas, words, etc., to begin to flow again.

Need some inspiration to get over the hump?

Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

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One of my favorite ways to move through the “stuck” is by doodling. (For me, this simple exercise of mindless mark making ended up becoming a foundational element in an entire career based on creativity.) Doodling engages the brain and helps to calm a restless mind. Doodling helps focus our attention which can in theory, help you break through writer’s block.


In this quick TED Talk, author and visual thinker Sunni Brown argues that doodling not only helps people stay mentally focused on the topic at hand, it also improves their ability to process information, and enhances our creative problem-solving.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Journaling: Doodling to Relieve Writer’s Block

  1. David – I agree that the Zentangle process itself is focus specific. I have always been a corporate meeting doodler who has received more than my fair share of disapproving looks from people who thought I wasn’t paying attention – and to the contrary, I’ve always been able to retain much more whenever I keep my hand engaged while others were speaking.

  2. Thanks for the TED link. But I disagree. After finding zentanglish patterns, I find the amount of concentration I require to finish the piece is high enough to block other stimuli. Sometimes I don’t hear the iPhone ringing. The end result is rarely pretty but the exercise is always refreshing and renewing. I have coworkers who doodle at meetings. They’re lost in their doodles but it’s passive-aggressive behavior; they’re ignoring the meeting. I tend to write in my journals at meetings. Sometimes my notes are relevant. We’re a graphics design and visual content creation group. We spend hours each day drawing, sketching, roughing comps, and crafting storyboards.

  3. Steph,
    I forgot that you wrote this column, but recognized your doodle immediately – you even doodle mandalas! You are always an inspiration to me!
    Big John – NJ

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