The Power of Doodling

In between writing and not being published, I attempt to draw, which defaults to my basic doodle setting.  My mind slips out of gear when doodling.  I drew a curlicue doodle which ended up with a small snail at the end of it.  Significant?

Is there a better chance of being published if you illustrate your own bookcover?  Nope.  Even with children’s picture books, there’s no guarantee it will be snatched off the slush pile because of the synchronicity of your fresh-faced pictures and curlicued words.  In fact, in Australia the editors prefer to nominate an artist so forget that plan.  Still, I can’t stop myself doodling.  What use is it?  (A) tension release, (B) learning aid, (C) mind clearer, (D) mind-wanderer, or who knows what.  Ah ha, light bulb moment!  I will research the experts and see what they have to say on the subject of Doodling 101.

Prepare to be bored, please doodle among yourselves – preferably with a real pen or pencil.

First up are the good news listicles and powerful headings:
  • 4 Benefits of Doodling | Examined Existence
  • 5 Big Benefits Of Being A Doodler | HuffPost – Huffington Post
  • 7 Ways Doodling & Colouring Benefit Your Brain | Care2 Healthy Living
  • 7 Benefits of Doodling and How to Get Started – Daring to Live Fully
  • Doodling Your Way to a More Mindful Life | Psychology Today
  • How Doodling Benefits Your Brain – Kendal at Home
  • How Doodling Makes You Smarter | Reader’s Digest
  • Study: Doodling Helps You Pay Attention – TIME
  • Science: Doodling Has Real Benefits For The Brain – Fast Co. Design
  • The Power of the Doodle: Improve Your Focus and Memory – WSJ
  • The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling – The Atlantic
  • The “Thinking” Benefits of Doodling – Harvard Health Blog …..

….. had enough?

You can’t get out of it that easily!

Here’s what JournalWeek had to say in a non-scientific wayDoodling comes from the word doodle – a habit of unfocused or unconscious drawing a person makes while his attention is actually occupied by something else.  Doodles are generally simple and sometimes nonsense drawing that may have definite representational meaning.

Today, doodling is fondly considered a ‘national’ pastime mainly because it is done by a lot of people in different settings, but mostly in classrooms and offices.  <Using a pen, or more recently using laptop, tablet or smart phone apps>  Some examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, mostly in the margins, caused by a student who is either lacking interest in the class or day dreaming. Another example is when someone is having a long telephone conversation while a pen and paper are within range.

What’s interesting about it?  For many people, it’s just a typical way of occupying themselves. Not a lot of them realise that doing it does actually provide some benefits.  Let’s find out how…

Memory Link:  Admit it – you doodle perhaps in most instances where there is a chance to. Most of us could not deny it because we have developed the habit as students.  What you remember and what sticks in your mind are usually the things you doodle. For instance, it can be trees you always see outside your bedroom window, logo of your favourite team, or the name of your favourite band, singer or celebrity.

The products of doodling are the images and words coming out of your subconscious mind. Although they seem to be of no significance, they can actually be helping you in learning and grasping knowledge.

One health benefit of the habit:  According to the Applied Cognitive Psychology study, doodling allows us to be able to effectively recall information hidden within our subconscious. The same research found out that the people subjected to the experiment that filled in shapes while listening to the phone had a better memory retention or recall percentage. The different is about thirty percent compared to those people who did not doodle.

Being Productive:  Although not yet proven, the hypothesis is that the habit itself is effective in minimising and combating daydreaming and absentmindedness.  But the power of doodling is not limited within the bounds of memory and recall alone. There is a widespread belief that it, in fact, corresponds to empowering one’s intellectual prowess. As it appears, someone who’s doodling seems to be distracted or plainly unfocused.

However, this is an activity that gives the brain an awkward but beneficial exercise of engagement and processing of complicated thoughts and ideas. Likewise, those who rely on their talents of creativity also use doodling to unlock that artistry and creativity in them.

Not convinced?  Read about some of the most notable people in history who themselves admit that the habit has in fact helped them focus, recall, and literally make use of their brains. The list includes the likes of Leonardo DaVinci, Sylvia Plath, Presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson, as well as poet John Keats, mathematician Stanislaw Ulaw, Franz Kafka and Mark Twain.

Therefore, if you have issues about paying attention and focus, doodling will help you deal with those issues. There’s really nothing wrong or you won’t lose anything if you start to developing the habit.  <And maybe gain a small work of art>

Most of this blog post was brought to you by JournalWeek!
“Our aim and mission is to provide our readers articles on interesting facts”
http://journalweek.com/interesting-facts-about-the-power-of-doodling/

I think the saddest doodle belongs to Jorge Luis Borges, writer, essayist and poet, who drew a self-portrait after he had gone blind.

Jorge Luis Borges Self Portrait When Blind
Jorge Luis Borges self portrait when blind

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library”
– Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20180331_162029

DBC Pierre Writes at Feverpitch

DBC Pierre Photo Montage 02
Photograph of novelist DBC Pierre by Murdo MacLeod for The Guardian.

“I wrote 300 pages in five weeks,” says novelist DBC Pierre, who made his debut with Vernon God Little, a Booker Prize winner, and delivers writing guidance in his contemporary work Release the Bats.

I enjoyed his gutsy and wildly perceptive advice which perhaps appeals to a ‘pantser’ style of writing rather than a ‘plotter’ but the quotable gems will stick with me.  Wisdom with a 21st century twist and language to match.

“A few pages into writing and find yourself drowning, as I did.”  DBC Pierre.

“When I started to write,” says self-confessed bad boy DBC Pierre in The Guardian interview, “I wasn’t particularly well-read, but I found two things critical. Together they can turn a pile of thoughts into a novel, in case you’re at a loose end next weekend, or are in prison. They’re also helpful if you’ve swum a few pages into writing and find yourself drowning, as I did.”

“The first might seem stupid but I actually found it the main hitch in getting words down and ‘letting rip’, ‘sticking with it’, and all that noble stuff we’re supposed to do. ‘The responsibility of awful writing’ was Hemingway’s twist on his own phrase ‘the awful responsibility of writing’. As the man who also said ‘first drafts are shit’, he pointed to a truth: if the key to finishing a novel is sticking with it, then the main challenge is to face writing crap.”

DBC Pierre Vernon God Little Bookcover

“All I liked after writing the first page of Vernon God Little was the voice. It had things to say about everything. I could feel it wanting to say them. But I went on to write 300 pages that didn’t make a book. I wrote them in five weeks, in a fever, without looking back. And at the end, I still liked the voice – but it hadn’t really said anything. Or rather, it had said plenty but nothing else had really happened. I soon found advantages to having done it that way.”

“Even writing 50 pages of crap gives a sense of achievement.”  DBC Pierre. 

“For one thing, I would usually find it hard to move on to page two if I didn’t like page one. I bet you could wallpaper the planet with books that never got to page two. And it’s a circular trap, in that some of the energy you need to forge ahead and push your page count up is generated by forging ahead and pushing your page count up. Even crap gives a sense of achievement when you get to 10, 20, 50 pages of it. When you don’t get past page one, you lose the spur. After that, the thing spirals into bad feeling and dies while you check email.”

“Half the problem is the expectation that we’ll see finished writing at once, more or less in its place. But I wouldn’t have written what I wrote if I’d thought about structure and form at the time. Obviously, if we’re writing about a boy going to the river, we make him go to the river. I don’t mean write without an idea – just that better ideas will come later. They attract each other and grow. We write crap in the meantime. It can work like a compost.”

“If you watch a dieter breaking their diet, you’ll see that they gobble things before they can stop themselves, before the internal arguments, before the shame. Guiltily and fast: that’s how to approach a first draft. A free writer is not something you are, but a place you can go. To start that climb: speed. Don’t look down. Keep a note of your page or word count, watch it grow like an investment. Amp yourself up. When we do things this way, a phenomenon comes to bear that justifies our approach: art. Some of what we write will crystallise for reasons we can’t explain, and the story comes into a life of its own.”

“If the job gets boring, loosen up…throw in a new character.”  DBC Pierre.

“Eventually, take that feverish pile, bravely or drunk, and read it back. Get over the cringing and find a glimmer, see what sentence or idea intrigues or excites you. Start from there and build out. If the job gets boring, loosen up, take a tangent, throw in a new character. In this process, the work begins to show itself. We show ourselves. When gems have grown into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages, look again. Find the part that works best and lift the rest up to it. This is how it climbs, by following what pleases us most.”

“We can’t compete with Shakespeare or Hemingway, nor should we try. Our particular feeling is all we can bring to this party, and our whole job should be to wrestle it into a story that works for us alone. After that we can dress it for others to read. A different job entirely. Save that for a strong coffee on a Monday.”

One of three different interviews by Chris Wiegand, Dave Simpson and Homa Khaleeli.  Wed 22 Feb 2017 06.00 AEDT “Culture” The Guardian newspaper.
https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/feb/21/frank-turner-dbc-pierre-creative-industry-advice
Heading : So You Want To Be An Artist? Then Let The Pros Show You How It’s Done.

You can also read my book review of Breakfast With The Borgias by DBC Pierre.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘Work-Life Balance is a Myth’ Review

Integrate by John Drury
Whole-of-life plan

Traditional work-life balance means separate compartments in our lives, but lines can become blurred, pressure can build and conflicts emerge.  Instead of working against each other, integration means all parts can work together to achieve a positive outcome for our lifestyle expectations.  Then realisation that your work-life balance is “out of kilter” will no longer apply.  I wish I had read this book before my divorce!

John Drury is a presenter, trainer, facilitator, and author of new book “Integrate” which challenges busy people to rethink their approach to life and work.  “The demands of work have never been greater.  A balancing act is not the answer.  Work-life integration is the only way forward in a 24/7 world” says Drury, whose painful personal experience with burnout, and subsequent recovery while in a senior leadership role, motivated him to start helping other high achievers create and maintain a realistic lifestyle.

In his book, Drury outlines a way to align all the parts of your life so they work in unison.  He says “This takes effort, but it’s well worth it and the end result will give you a schedule far easier to work with than just a big juggling act which no-one ever seems to make work.”  He believes that you must look after yourself at your very core; respect your health, your wellness, your relationships and your work commitments.

In John Burfitt’s interview, Drury explains that self-care and implementing achievable self-management strategies are essential.  Drury goes on to say that once important areas are defined and outlined, it becomes a matter of making decisions and planning goals “And you must do that, as a goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Integrate by John Drury 02
Image is an edited extract from Chapter 3 of “Integrate: Why work-life balance is a myth and what you need to create a fulfilling lifestyle” by John Drury  John Drury.biz

Further reading: “Integrate” by John Drury

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste Campaign

Brisbane Queensland Australia 05
Brisbane Queensland Australia

Maybe it’s because I was brought up by post-war parents that I am shocked at the staggering amount of food waste in Brisbane.  I could not understand why our local Government has joined the world-wide campaign Love Food Hate Waste.  Surely you only buy, cook and eat what you need and freeze leftovers?

Apparently for millions of households, it’s not that simple!

The Council brochure states “Love Food Hate Waste was launched in 2007 by Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) in the United Kingdom followed by New Zealand, Canada and Australia.  With food waste making up 37% of the average Brisbane rubbish bin, 1 in 5 shopping bags of food ends up in the bin.  That’s 97,000 tonnes of food thrown away every year.   There are simple and practical changes which residents can make in the kitchen to reduce food waste; planning, preparation and storage of food will make a big difference to your wallet and keep Brisbane clean, green and sustainable.”

Scramble over the mat, don’t trip on the dog, here’s a tasty listicle of Council wisdom prepared earlier:

  • Plan meals ahead – create a meal plan based on what is already in your fridge, freezer and pantry.
  • Shop mindfully – stick to your shopping list!
  • Store food correctly – Learn how to store food to ensure it lasts as long as possible and check your refrigerator is functioning at maximum efficiency.
  • Cook with care – Without controlling portions, we tend to waste food when we prepare or cook too much.  Remember fruit and vegetables ripen quickly and are best consumed daily.
  • Love your leftovers – Freeze leftovers to use for lunches, keep for snacks, or add to another main meal.
  • Consider composting – Turn your kitchen scraps into rich nutrients for your garden, get a Bokashi bucket, consider owning pets like chickens or guinea pigs.
  • Join a community garden – Composting hubs operate in selected community gardens.
  • Six-week food waste challenge – Every week the Council will provide step-by-step information on how you can reduce food waste in your home.  Seriously.

Bokashi Bucket Diagram 01

We are over-stocked, over-fed and over-indulgent of our taste buds.  Or as my dear mother would say “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste BCC Campaign

Let Your Heart Be Light

Jen Storer is an established Australian children’s author brimming with imagination and inspiration. This post encapsulates her talent, personality and future plans. Jump into The Duck Pond and start paddling with emerging writers and illustrators!
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

girl and duck

Hello!

I like writing blog posts at Christmas. No one expects much. Do they?

IMG_3967Writing: I finally finished Truly Tan: Baffled! (book seven) and delivered it to my publisher on time (working right up until December 15, the day it was due). Phew! Next year I’ll be waaaay more organised. Ahem.

Finalising: We signed off on Danny Best: Me First! Check out the full cover. Talk about The Best! 😉 Due out in Feb 2018.

DB_MEFIRST_FC2Receiving: I received a Christmas card from a Tan reader. The letter attached said, I know you like wolves. So here’s a card with a fox on it. God, I love my readers.

IMG_3984 2

Planning and: pondering 2018. I have some lovely plans for girl and duck, including a Scribbles Boot Camp in Feb, and an IRL (in real life) Scribbles master class in Melbourne in May. We will also be launching the Girl and Duck…

View original post 518 more words

Can Listicles Rot Your Brain?

Listicle List 04

Is a listicle clickbait, fun facts written for readers with short attention spans, or an orderly way to write information?

First of all, the word listicle is comprised of two words, list and article, and features numbered sentences.  The salient content is brief, frequently light on facts, often humorous and has an almost hypnotic quality.  There is a compulsion to read a listicle to the end but this can leave a feeling of dissatisfaction.  Yet, as time and the internet marches on, readers can’t get enough of them.  Accordingly, listicles have transcended dot points and editorial shortcuts to become the layout of choice for everyday writers and bloggers needing a quick and easy-to-read solution.

Listicle List 01

You know what to expect by the heading of a listicle, usually important nonsense, so opinions are divided on their usefulness.  Are they ever meant to be taken seriously?  Many people think so, but that’s probably because they are writing a how-to manual.

Back when a listicle in a magazine was called a Guide or Questionnaire, and had titles like “Ten Ways To Find Out If Your Boyfriend Really Loves You”, the format was short, numbered sentences and had ten boxes to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and ended with your score.  Listicles have morphed into a more sophisticated version of this ‘filler’ yet still pretend to be useful data, advice or handy hints to enhance your lifestyle.

Listicle List 02

So, does this glossary format, this amusing fad with the cute name, continue on or can it be classed as nouveau 21st century literacy?

It doesn’t affect my reading ability (heck, I’ve re-blogged them myself) and I tend to treat a listicle as an expurgation, a beguiling and abridged version of real reading.  Just type in ‘listicle websites’ and have a look at the content.  Hardly literature at its finest even allowing for sentences stripped bare.

There are as many ‘for’ and ‘against’ stories as there are listicles.  Here are 3 of my favourite takes on listicles with apologies for not making it 10––

Listicle List 03

(1)  Excerpt from “What Is A Listicle?”
https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-listicle-1691130
From Richard Nordquist comes this Garrison Keillor slice of the Darker Side Of Listicles, an interview with the writer who popularised listicles (or did he?) and asks him––

Q: Do you have any idea what damage you’ve done, Jim? You’ve made people more stupid. Some of your readers now find it hard to read paragraphs that aren’t numbered.
A: How many? A lot?

Listicle List 08

(2)  Excerpt from Mark O’Connell “Ten Paragraphs About Lists You Need in Your Life Right Now” The New Yorker, August 29, 2013
https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/10-paragraphs-about-lists-you-need-in-your-life-right-now
“The rise of the listicle obviously connects with the internet’s much-discussed effect on our ability (or desire) to sit still and concentrate on one thing for longer than ninety seconds. Contemporary media culture prioritises the smart take, the sound bite, the takeaway––and the list is the takeaway in its most convenient form. But even when the list, or the listicle, has nothing really to do with useful information, it still exerts an occult force on our attention––or on my attention, at any rate. (’34 Things That Will Make ’90s Girls Feel Old.’ ’19 Facts Only a Greek in the U.K. Can Understand.’ ’21 Kinds of Offal, Ranked By How Gross They Look.’) Like many of you, I am more inclined to click on links to articles that don’t reflect my interests if they happen to be in the form of countdowns. And I suspect my sheep-like behaviour has something to do with the passive construction of that last sentence. The list is an oddly submissive reading experience. You are, initially, sucked in by the promise of a neatly quantified serving of information or diversion….Once you’ve begun reading, a strange magnetism of the pointless asserts itself.”
Note how Mark O’Connell has numbered all his paragraphs.

Listicle 06

(3)  On the flip side, here is an excerpt from pro-listicle website “Five Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay and Why That’s OK”
https://www.wired.com/2014/01/defense-listicle-list-article/
Rachel Edidin talks about ‘active progression’ and ‘lane-markers’ and her opening comment launches straight into battle “Lists are everywhere. They’re the bread and butter of sites like Cracked and BuzzFeed, and regular content or sporadic filler at dozens more. (Yes, even WIRED). From the multimedia gallery to the humble Top 10, list-format articles – listicles – are rapidly becoming the lingua franca of new-media journalism…” and later says “… listicles are just another tool in the box.”

Listicle

Listicle List 06

Listicle List 07

If you are a listicle fan, you won’t be reading this blog post.
For those who have struggled this far, here is a bonus extra:

On a scrap of paper, I’ve just written my higgledy piggledy shopping list––or is it?

1.     Bread, flour.
2.     Milk, butter, cheese.
3.     Coffee, green tea.
4.     Apples, oranges, pears.
5.     Potatoes, carrots.
6.     Basil, thyme, rosemary.
7.     Eggs, chicken.
8.     Gnocchi, penne, ravioli.
9.     Tuna, salmon.
10.   Basmati, paella.

Did you read to the end?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wise and Weird

Yeah Yeah Yeah

♦  
What if my dog only brings back the ball because he thinks I like throwing it?

♦   Your future self is watching you right now through memories.

♦   If poison expires, is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous?

♦   Which letter is silent in the word “Scent,” the S or the C?

♦   Do twins ever realise that one of them is unplanned?

♦   Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn’t it be called double V?

♦   Maybe oxygen is slowly killing you and it just takes 75-100 years to fully work.

♦   Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.

♦   The word “swims” upside-down is still “swims”.

♦   One hundred years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses.

♦   The doctors who told Stephen Hawking he had two years to live in 1953 are probably dead.

♦   If you replace “W” with “T” in “What, Where and When” you get the answer to each of them.

♦   Many animals probably need glasses, but nobody knows it.

♦   If you rip a hole in a net, there are actually fewer holes in it than there were before.

♦   Please note I am only the purveyor of these words of weirdly wiseness.

  When 22/2/2022 falls on a Tuesday, we’ll just call it “2’s Day”.

♥   Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Calendar Date 22.2.2022
Where will you be on Twosday?

Do You Doodle?

Snail
Snail

Do you still doodle on a notepad or scrap of paper?  When telephones were fixed items, every office had a blotter with notepad and pen handy.  Home phones had a dedicated area littered with paper and old envelopes for note-taking or scribbling a quick message with a stubby pencil.  Doodling came into its own while listening to your boss rant or your mother dispense advice.  It is quite possible that fifty percent of paper used in the world prior to computers and internet access was used for doodling while on the telephone.

It seems we only used half our brain when talking on the phone and, as evidenced today, we had to be occupied with something else at the same time.  Lo, mobile phones were born!  Or in other countries, lo, cell phones were born! With access to a myriad of mind-occupying pastimes.  And you can personalise any device; doodling without pen or paper.  I don’t think it’s necessary to launch into the historic progress of communications over the centuries but I can guarantee it will get more and more streamline, more and more accessible and more and more invasive.  Computer art is not really doodling…

I love curlicues and my featured doodle was penned while I was listening to a podcast so perhaps there is still a time and place for doodling.  I don’t know where that snail came from but I can use any number of tech devices, themes and programs to jazz him up.  Do I want to? Nah, think I’ll just leave him on an old piece of recycled A4 paper.

Happy indeedydoodling!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

Writer’s Self-Help

My Reading Tray 05
Afternoon Tea

Over the years I have read a handful of self-help books aimed at emerging authors, including the iconic Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and famous memoir On Writing by Stephen King, but recently I came across these two quite diverse publications which really gave me a nudge in the right direction.

“Use Your Words” by Catherine Deveny 2016 published by Black Inc.
“See Me Jump” by Jen Storer 2016 published by Girl And Duck.

Catherine Deveny’s book is written in plain straight forward language, and she gets right to the heart of the matter.  There’s no place to hide once the momentum starts rolling.  Be warned, this book is for adults.  Catherine uses impolite language and bad manners to push you forward, sometimes against your will.  Then you see that glowing light at the end of the tunnel, er, book.  Well worth reading this boot-camp style book.

Jen Storer’s book is slim yet informative with small sketches dotted through the pages.  Her style is easy, encouraging, friendly and humorous.  It’s a book for adults but those with a yearning to write good books for children.  Note the chapter 4 heading “Don’t let adults fix your character’s problem” which is a must for kids literature.  Many of Jen’s sentences make memorable quotes, my favourite “Be brave. Don’t wait to create.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Catherine Deveny Writer
Self-Help
Jen Storer Writer
KidLit

Simmering Manuscripts

Typewriter 02
Strange Truth

My documentation is office-organised but my writing approach is organic.  I will have four or five manuscripts simmering away then one will bubble to the top.  That’s The One.  I pursue it to the end.  Sometimes those left simmering, sink to the bottom.  Other times a new thought will be added and not even stirred into the mix, it will shine immediately and have my full attention.

You gotta love what you’re working on, right!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Saucepan
“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble”