Whether you are doodling or drawing with a pencil or a pen in black and white or in living color, you do that because it pleases you. Either doodling or drawing can arise suddenly from other activity through unclear urges within us.
Perhaps you have been thinking hard about an essay, trying to make logical connections, ordering the points you will make in a near final draft. Alternatively, you may be thinking about a more abstract problem, complex and mathematical. In either case you may be close to resolving matters, but you sense you are not really there.
Suddenly on the side of the paper on which you are working you start to draw. It’s nothing yet, maybe just a little doodling. Lines, shapes, curves, dots. Some shaded areas appear as you go along. Maybe even something recognizable appears. Likely it does not. As you add a few finishing touches, you realize you have forgotten completely about the problem you were working on. On the other hand, you are pretty happy with your doodling.
You set your doodling aside and go for lunch. You return resolved to get back to work on the problem at hand. You start in to work and at once or almost at once you realize there it is — the solution to the essay or problem which before doodling you seemed to be close to resolving but was really going nowhere. Now solutions and connections between ideas spill out of your mind onto the paper or the computer monitor and you complete your project: major points, minor points, conclusions all are laid out with clarity.
How does this happen? Thinking logically about a complex problem having a solution you may be near requires making connections that are unique, at least to you. The problem and its solution technically belongs to the part of the brain that specializes in assembling facts and issues in logical order to develop and resolve and possibly relate them to issues previously unrecognized as connected or even connectable.When you see the details of the solution you have come up with, you may be amazed that it has become so much clearer than it was just hours ago.
Emotion, spatial relationships, creativity, intuition that arrive from regions of your brain of which you are seemingly not consciously aware, may also play a role. You really can’t say much about how that occurs as you may be only dimly aware of it. Yet the outcome is less a fight between our analytical-conscious brain (our so called left brain) and our intuitive-creative-artistic brain (our so-called right brain), and more an issue of whether we can allow a collaboration between them to occur. We have to let it happen. Moreover, we need to play an active role in the process.
Historically, some people have been thought to be either left brain or right brain dominant, but it isn’t that simple. In the former case logic and analysis may prevail, but little creativity or feeling may be seen in the process. In the latter case, we may be highly artistic and creative but virtually unable to think through any complex problem coherently. Most of us are somewhere in between these extremes and we go through life by not just allowing but rather assisting and developing right and left brain collaborations. The result can be highly creative, analytical outcomes to the many problems we encounter and have to solve.
If you are a thinker, don’t be afraid to let the artist in you come out. If you are an artist set aside the implements of your trade and think about another problem which has no apparent artistic solution.