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  • The World In Pens

    Business 2 Community makes the case that doodling is an effective tool to improve communication, increase productivity and spur creativity in the workplace.

    A Flavorwire article from a couple years ago making its way around social media again shows the hand-drawn/hand-written plot outlines of several famous authors, including J.K. Rowling and Joseph Heller.

    The Providence Journal profiles a doodler who developed his craft into a regular business selling pen-and-ink sketches on the US festival circuit.

    All4Women explains why journaling is good for your mental health in a succinct 12-point list that covers everything from stress management to panic attacks.

    The Sprachen blog explains in depth how to start and organize a language notebook for tracking your progress as you learn multiple languages.

    Seinfeld's "All I said was I liked the pen" holds the No. 1 spot on the Pentel blog's top 10 pop culture references to pens. (On a related note, a few years ago, we rounded up some of the best movie/TV fight scenes that involved a pen.)

    This interview with Swedish poet Emina Gaspar-Vrana on the Memopipwrites blog contains one of the best lines ever about pens and writing: "Who needs a shrink when you have a pen?"

    Kinja asked readers to vote for their five favorite pens and the Pilot G-2 made the top of the list. Maybe their readers just don't know pens.

  • Doodling Art is Centuries Old

    Here's something interesting: Doodling is not a creation of the modern mind.

    Doodling art has been discovered in manuscripts going back hundreds of years, with drawings of cats, funny faces and naughty stuff showing up in the margins of everything from Bibles to texts about King Arthur and Merlin.

    Credit: British Library Credit: British Library

    That's right, medieval people indulged their inner 12-year-olds just like we do.

    The people who came before us were just as creative with their pens, and just as apt to grow bored copying texts by hand in the days before printing presses became widely available. The doodles added to the margins of their pages show they had a bawdy, sharp-eyed sense of satire. Continue reading

  • Doodling: The Non-Sensical Way To Make Sense Of It All

    Example of doodling Credit: Giulia Forsythe

    One of my goals for the new year is to take up doodling.

    That might sound a bit silly. Frivolous, even. But there is a reason for it, and a reason I'd recommend everyone become a doodler, at least a little.

    Research over the last few years consistently has found that the simple act of doodling increases a person's ability to retain information, aids in learning new concepts and stimulates the right hemisphere of the brain, helping to fire the imagination.

    According to the BBC, human beings may just be hard-wired to doodle.

    Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution and Gamestorming, criticizes the idea of doodling as a useless endeavor, instead offering this re-definition of doodling at the 2011 TED conference:

    Doodle: to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think.

    In her TED Talk, Brown explains that learning and memory are accomplished in four distinct ways: visual, auditory, kinesthic and reading/writing. Learning requires engaging at least two of those. Doodling uses all four. You are listening to new information, writing it down and reading it, adding visual reminders and engaging your motor functions.

    (Fast Company has an excellent piece exploring more of Brown's ideas on doodling as a means of learning and improving memory.)

    A study by Plymouth University in the UK found that information recall improved 29 percent among participants who doodled while listening to a tape of names and locations compared to participants who did not doodle.

    "If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream," said study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, Ph.D. "Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task."

    Researcher Shaaron Ainsworth from the University of Nottingham has also conducted studies testing the use of doodling as a learning tool in science education. Her conclusion: Doodling aided in keeping students engaged, taught them visual reasoning skills and was an important part of learning strategies.

    And in yet another study, this one performed in Australia, researchers reported that combining drawing and writing improved childrens' writing skills.

    Apparently there is even a term for the practice of combining doodling and note-taking for learning and idea-generation. It's called "sketchnoting," about as perfect a way to describe it as I've ever heard. It also has become a field of professional study and consulting known as "visual practice."

    One visual practitioner, Patti Dobrowolski, advocates doodling not only as a way to learn and remember, but also to make effective changes in corporate cultures and in personal lives. Drawing goals helps people envision them, then enact those visions, she says.

    According to Dobrowolski:

    Goal-setting often stalls because we have so much data filling our brain that it gets overloaded and can’t remember what to focus on, but when you DRAW a picture of what you desire, you remember it better by 65%!

    Add into your success quotient the chemistry your body makes when you are imagining and drawing—that serotonin/oxytocin elixir helps guide that pattern-making brain of yours into focusing on what you want.

    Now I just have to figure out how to doodle my goal of becoming a doodler. Maybe this video from Art ala Carte can help me get started.

    The most important lesson so far: "There's no rhyme or reason with doodling; it's just kind of what's in your head."

    Of course, I'd be in good company. Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Ron Howard, Sylvia Plath, Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton are all well-known doodlers.

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