The Doodle-A-Day Experiment
Updated: Apr 19, 2019
The year was 2017.
The place: The Blue Mountains of Jamaica.
I was up to my ears in work as an agricultural adviser for the US Peace Corps. Between community meetings, farmer training, outreach at the primary school, and workshops at the community learning center, I was finding little time to maintain my personal sanity.
We all experience times like these. We're stretched thin, over-committed, giving everything we've got to the pile of tasks at hand.
For some of us, this fast tempo can be exhilarating- but that only lasts for so long. Running full throttle gets old pretty quick, and leads us to the inevitable:
This was where I found myself in October 2017. I was happy to be making progress with work, but I was feeling completely drained. I had little time to shower regularly- let alone feed my creativity.
Having reached a thoroughly zombie-fied state, I decided something had to be done.
In the interest of creative survival.
The Doodle-A-Day Experiment Began
I wanted to institute a daily creative practice.
Something that forced me to flex my maker-muscles every day. If I could make time to brush my teeth every morning, I could make time for art every day.
So what did I have time for? I'd recently scored a secondhand sketchbook and thought I could fill a page every day.
A whole page?
Well, maybe half a page?
Well, realistically, I could manage something in a 2x2-inch square on the page every day.
And so I did. I drew something in that little square every single day. The cost of entry was low: just a few seconds to fill up the little square. I didn't need special supplies, just my sketchbook and a pen. And the pressure was low: my drawing didn't have to be any good. I didn't have to show anyone. I just had to fill the square with something.
It only took a couple of days to notice a difference.
Suddenly, I was having ideas again.
Suddenly, it was like my brain was getting much-needed creative exercise.
And while there were some mornings I struggled to think of anything to put down, most days I looked forward to my itty-bitty art assignment.
After a while, the doodles became like an art diary, a record of my thoughts each day, each week, each month.
And many of my ideas for larger projects began to start as a doodle in the 2x2-inch square.
Flash forward a year and a half later, and I'm still filling the square every day. Every day. And I still see excellent results in my creative life. No longer confined to the schedule my Peace Corps service required, I've had the time and energy to up my game, here and there. Sometimes I add watercolor. Sometimes I use markers. Sometimes, I even pencil in an image before adding ink over top.
But at the very least, I draw something in the square.
"An artist in motion stays in motion," and making it a priority to draw something every day has given me the push I needed to get moving, at a time when I felt creatively stuck.
Want to play along? I encourage you to give the Doodle-A-Day a try! You don't even need a sketchbook. Just paper and something to scribble with. Drawing not your thing? Make it painting a day. A poem a day. A bite-sized something you can commit to completing every single day.
***Psssst! To help you out, I've added a free printable doodle page to get you started on your own Doodle-A-Day Challenge! Head over to the shop, and use the coupon code "Doodle" for the free downloadable pdf. https://www.whatpennymade.com/illustration ***
Do you already have a daily practice? Tell me about it in the comments! I'd love to hear your tips and tricks to staying motivated and filled with ideas. What do you do to jump-start the juice maker when you're feeling all shriveled up?