#summersparks DAY 2: The Power of Doodling by Alison Hertz

Summer Sparks

The Power of Doodling
By: Alison Hertz

 

When Tracey asked me to create a blog post for the Summer Sparks Challenge, I knew that I had to share the power of doodling. I am a writer and an artist and over the years whether I’ve considered myself “a writer who likes to draw” or an “artist who enjoys writing” has flip flopped many times. What has been consistent throughout my life is using the art of doodling to both help spark creative flow and to “see” my characters and my story develop.

 

Whether or not you’ve ever used your writing tools (pen, pencil, computer) to doodle, it’s not too late to start. There is no drawing skill required for doodling and you might surprise yourself. You may have seen Sunny Brown on TED talks about the Power of Doodling and if you missed it, you can click on this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown. Her point and mine is that the act of letting your pencil flow across the page gets areas of your brain active and helps you tap into your creativity mind.

I have three different ways for you to use doodling when you sit to write a picture book or any other genre of your choice:

 

#1 Before you write, doodle. Sit down with a piece of notebook paper and just draw loopty-loos down the rows – this is a pre-cursive exercise that a child learning to write might be asked to do in school. Create rows of circles, wiggles, zig-zags, and arcs. Draw slow flowing lines across your page while your mind thinks about your characters and your story. Let your mind wander and don’t think about what your pencil is creating on the page. See your story unfold in your mind. Then begin writing.

 

#2 See your Character – What is she or he like? I don’t just mean physical characteristics like glasses or curly hair (unless these are essential parts of this character). I’m referring to how your character represents him or herself. Does she stands in a slumpy position or does she stand confidently? Doodle. Does he have something sticking out of his pocket that is a hint of more information about this character? Doodle. Does your character look down at his toes afraid of the world or look to sky ready for any challenge. What does your character eat? Doodle it. What does his bedroom look like? Doodle it. Who are his or her friends? What does your character like to do? Doodle all of these things. Doodles are super loose sketches for your eyes only. None of these things might end up in your book but all of them are important to getting to know your character.

 

#3 See your Story – Write a scene and then doodle something from it. Doodle an object, character, action, or setting from that scene or the next one. These doodles are for you so if you draw an oval to represent one character and a rectangle to represent another, that’s fine. This isn’t an art contest and it isn’t about how realistic you can draw a setting for your scene. Stick figures and geometric shapes are totally acceptable for doodling. Whatever you draw will not only help you see what is showing in the scene, “seeing your story” will help you reduce or tighten your word count. For Picture Books writers – if your character is wearing a hat, your text doesn’t need to describe it and if he or she is standing in a kitchen or a playground or anywhere else, your text never needs to describe your setting because the illustrator will show it. For Chapter Book and Novel writers – when you doodle a setting, you might realize that there could be a WHATEVER behind the WHOEVER doing something that will foreshadow a part of the plot. Think about books like Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME, with all of the details for the story wrap up tucked throughout the story. Let doodling help you find where you can tuck in those details. See your story.

 

There are many books like John Truby’s THE ANATOMY OF STORY and Jordan E. Rosenfeld’s MAKE A SCENE that teach writers how to tell stories the way movies do; one scene at a time. The best written stories are the ones that allow us to jump in and live the story, see it all around us, be a part of it, and get to know the characters. Doodling (even blobs and stick figures) can help you to see your characters and your story before you write and while you write.

 

Alison Hertz

Alison K. Hertz

 

a.k.a.

juggling reading wire

Q&A about Alison…

Did you always want to be an author?
    I began writing stories when I was nine years old at summer camp. At the end of each day, I would jot down a few sentences about the crazy activities we did and then make up different endings.

When did you start drawing?
    I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. My teachers in elementary school thought that I wasn’t paying attention in class because I was so busy drawing the characters on the posters that decorated the room. Hey teachers, I was listening. I was just drawing, too.

What is your favorite media to work with?
    I love to draw with blue colored pencils. When I studied architecture and city planning in college, we were taught to sketch with non-photo blue so it would not show when we made copies. When I studied toy design, I sketched everything in blue pencils; beginning my drawings with light blue and working darker as the drawing became more defined. Now I use my blue sketches as the bottom layer in Sketchbook Pro on my computer.

Where do you come up with your story ideas?
    I’ve always worn many hats. I have been a circus performer, toy designer, camp director, teacher, author, illustrator, and a mom. There are many stories to create from my own experiences as well as from the silly things that I see happening around me everyday. If you don’t see stories unfolding around you, spend some time anywhere that kids hang out.

What made you decide to try to get your stories and your artwork published?
    I want to share my stories with lots of kids. The more giggles, the better. I also would love to hear that my stories inspire kids to read. Reading takes you on adventures and educates your mind about anything and everything you ever wanted to know.

Circus? Toy Designer? Really?
    Yes, I performed in the circus when I was 12-16 years old and yes, I designed hundreds of toys that were sold in major retail stores. I believe in Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. If there is something you want to learn to do – do it. Maybe you want to play piano, learn to speak Spanish, hike the Grand Canyon, learn how to play tennis, … If it’s legal and it’s safe, go for it.

Alison is the author of:

5636063_origFlap!

FIND ALISON HERTZ:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Writing Prompt

I host a daily drawing challenge called

Doodle Day LogoDoodle Day and the group and daily prompts are on Facebook. Whether you are someone who doesn’t think they can draw a straight line with a ruler or a professional artist, Doodle Day is a place to get the create juices flowing and it just might spark your next great idea.   CLICK ON THE DOODLE DAY LOGO to join Alison’s group and get loads of prompts!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

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42 thoughts on “#summersparks DAY 2: The Power of Doodling by Alison Hertz

  1. What a coincidence!!! The value of doodling was the first story this morning on CBS Sunday Morning. You can usually watch the videos online starting Monday. The segment interviewed a woman who wrote a book about doodling. Great ideas in your post, too. Let me get doodling.

  2. Alison, I love your tips for doodling a story and character – thanks. Even though, I haven’t participated much lately, I also love the doodle day group, prompts, and challenges. I enjoyed the Q & A and getting to know more about you.

  3. For some strange reason, I never really think to pair doodling and writing together (I tend to do art separately from writing), so thanks for the reminder that we should pair them, Alison! Your drawing with a blue pencil habit is pretty cool; I might have to try that for rough sketches that I can then make B/W photocopies of to work from. 🙂

  4. Enjoy doodling, and drawing. Actually took a 6 week course on drawing through the nearby community college to help my writing along. And still do move my pencil about the page drawing shapes or whatever when I’m stuck with my writing.

  5. I am an illustrator fan girl — always have been. So hearing about your daily doodle and ways I can incorporate it in my writing life was pretty exciting. My daughter is an illustrator and she has always doodled to learn, so the connection seems clear to me, even if I needed you to help make the connection to my work. Can’t wait to try it later today! Thanks for a great and inspirational SUMMER SPARK! You rock!

    Kelly

  6. As soon as you used the VERY same phrase in this post that I use to describe myself (can’t draw a straight line with a ruler), you absolutely convinced me. Just asked to join your group. I’m not much of a doodler, but you’ve convinced me to at least give it a try. It SOUNDS like it would be incredibly helpful. Thanks so much!!

  7. Thank you Alison. After doodling my main characterr, I doodled three minor characters. I love giving them face time.

  8. Love this post! I’m definitely not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I can handle “doodlling!” I’m going to get on board with your Doodle Day group and prompts. Thanks!

  9. Hi Alison: There truly is so much power in the creative spark of doodling. Thank you for affirming in me what I enjoy doing-reading, writing and creating everyday. Hi Tracey: It is day two and I am just now catching up. Thank you for the second great spark! ~Suzy Leopold

  10. Oh, the irony! I started sketching (badly) a picture book I am working on. I bought this funky drawing pad for making comic strips in. I think it is really helpful for helping me cut unnecessary words, although it brought me to the sad conclusion that I can’t draw very well. 😦

  11. A terrific post, Alison! I’m a long time doodler… the first draft of my manuscript pages can attest to that fact! I never really thought about using my doodles as idea generators but will give it a whirl

  12. Pingback: Day 3: Cause and Effect by Alayne Kay Christian | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  13. Pingback: DAY 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic by: Kelly Halls | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  14. My internet connection was down so I had a lot of time to doodle 🙂 I find that doing something else creative (drawing, taking photos, crafts) in between writing time also helps clear my mind and get the writing flowing again.

  15. Pingback: DAY 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja by Corey Rosen Schwartz | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  16. Pingback: DAY 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End by Julie Gribble | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  17. Pingback: DAY 6: The Final Word by Jodi Moore | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  18. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 7: Inspiration Station by Susanna Hill | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  19. As an artist who likes to write & vise versa, I can attest to the fact that doodling is a great remedy for writers block. This article is spot on about the benefits of doodling out your characters and scenes. It also helps me to keep an idea fresh especially when it pops into my head at inopportune moments such as just before I fall asleep or I’m on the road & there’s no time to write it all down.

  20. Christine, I have found out it helps me immensely. I’m cutting word count, making my stories so much tighter. I think by doodling I can see what is truly needed as far as details go, and what is fluff I just want to put in. I cut the fluff.

  21. Pingback: The Power of Doodling | My great WordPress blog

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