I just finished watching Sunni Brown’s Doodlers, unite! talk on TED.

Apart from being a very interesting talk in and of itself, I was struck by how doodling could be applied to dealing with those moments when a scene (or even a whole work) wanders away from the path and gets lost in the blizzard of white-space. For me, the horror of empty space is that I should be filling it with words; continuing to write ceases to be about enjoying something I choose to do or even about producing the work itself, and rears up as a moral imperative. At some point I internalised the idea that you solve writer’s block by writing, so I go back to my mind-maps and outlines, I try just typing anything to fill the space and if that does not work I mark the scene or piece as draft/outline and move onto a different writing.

However, when I am not writing I happily embrace thoughts born from a combination of stimuli; some of my best discussions have sprung from a chance event triggering a complex structure to pour out of my mind. While there is no evidence in the video to support the belief Sunni Brown knows more about breaking creative block than another person who I find on the internet in a professional setting, applying the idea because a third-party triggered it instead of thinking it myself cunningly steps around my internal censor, giving me licence to try it.

Next time I find a blank page, instead of trying to slog through the drift or pick a different journey, I will try doodling to see if it produces a picture of the path to where I want to go.

Possibly you already do this, in which case I would love to hear about how it works for you; possibly it does not, in which case it would be great to know how it failed.


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