Back to the Doodling Board

Please, doodle at work

Sunni Brown, The Miseducation of the Doodle

Do you take life too seriously? I often do.

I am a Serious Person in recovery. I am also a Sensitive Artist. These two personas have been in conflict recently. Imagine the following  – it’s been going on inside my mind.

Playing With Paint

Serious Person straps Sensitive Artist to the chair and says “Produce creative stories to make the world a better place.” Sensitive Artist curls up in ball and hides, “I can’t take the pressure.” Serious Person then steps in and creates, but the result is pedantic and uncompelling. Sensitive Artist withers in shame that this is the product associated with her name and finds comfort in Shiraz and chocolate rather than in writing. So, Serious Person drags Sensitive Artist to laptop and the cycle begins again.

This is what happens when I let that Serious Person persona have too much control.  Oh, I know, she’s useful when it comes to doing my taxes, but she’s not much help writing a story until the final stages of editing.

Painting with my daughter this week, I remembered the joy of being creative in a medium where I have no expectations for myself, where the process really is the product. And, this joy makes the Sensitive Artist happy.

Playing With Colour

While my daughter attempted symbolic painting, I just stroked the paint on the paper, feeling the way the cheap paintbrushes caught on the paper and noticing the way the paint came off the brush unevenly. I looked at the paint colours in front of me and the paint on my paper and decided to try a new colour just because it appealed to me in the moment.

And it was fun.  I even liked some of what I created. But more importantly, I reconnected with the playful side of creativity and my Sensitive Artist persona came out of hiding. The next few things I wrote had a freshness that has been missing in my work recently.

What do you do that helps you tap into your playful creativity when the world looks too serious? Do you have tricks or games you play? Let me know in the comments.


About Kate Arms-Roberts

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Creativity, Play, This Writing Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Being another member of the recovering serious persons’ club, I try to come up with new tricks every few days. Sometimes, with my particular day job where I’m stuck staring at the phosphor in my computer screen for hours on end, this is a challenging task. Mostly, I use word games and try to remind myself to get up and move (an InterPlay-ish hand-dance or full-body “dance”) occasionally. And I’m thankful that your post is reminding me to engage in these more consciously and consistently.

    Oh, yeah. And … I love your writing, Kate!

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      Thanks, Stan.

      I think what struck me most this week is how little I notice as the Serious Person persona slips back into charge. I really do need daily practices to keep it in check.
      There is a new weekly InterPlay group in Toronto and I am hoping that will help me stay balanced.


  2. I have lots of things that move me out of my own Serious Person, IF I actually do them: long walks, graphic art, journaling, meditating, laughing, naps, PLAY–and I’m always a better writer as a result. Lately, I have been writing less because Serious Me has nearly taken over (new job, new responsibilities). This weekend, I think I’ll play a little and see what flows. Thanks once again for the nudge, Kate.

    Happy writing!


    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      The trick really is doing the things that we know work, isn’t it? When I get stuck in Serious Person, it gets hard to see that all I need to do is one of those many things.

      I hope you have had a chance to play this weekend. I found time to do more drawing with the kids, some gardening, and a long bath with a book, which are all on my list.


  3. You’re describing the classic left-brain/right-brain dilemma I’ve written about and have seen in many artists. The good news is, the ones who really go places have this struggle; if the left brain takes over they never make time to create, but if the right brain takes over, they lack the discipline to produce and distribute quality work.

    Right now my right brain is in control, but looking at my dwindling checking account I’d better get back soon to drumming up some more freelance work, a task for my left brain.

    Serious Person needs to understand that if Sensitive Artist is strapped into a chair, she is not going to produce anything, of value or not.

  4. The thing I realize as I connect with more artists through my life is that balance over time is the only form of balance that works. In any given moment, you have to be operating from one perspective or the other. And the switch between them is not always easy to make.

    I’m sure you’ll have more freelance work in no time if you set your left brain on it.

  5. But I’m a writer! I have to take myself very seriously, right? No? It certainly is difficult to remember to lighten up. I take walks, knit, and hang out with my dog is such an old curmudgeon its hard not to laugh about him. I fancy myself a painter, but rarely do it–one reason this post inspired me.

  6. Kate,

    Thank you for sharing from your painting and writing
    I’m glad you take your living and influence seriously
    And that you find freedom
    in a moment of watching
    how paint
    flows from the brush
    while you enjoy your daughters company
    and another color

    I search to live further into the liminal space
    where my in earnest self
    can also breathe free
    and play



  7. Thankyou for liking my Blog/blogpost Katie.. I see you are a writer/artist/sensitive person too… ;-D.. I love doodling..sketching writing about the ‘Gifted Experience and also prone to spontaneous outbursts of poetry too… I very much enjoyed reading some of your posts here. Best Leslinks

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