Art of the Dudeltopf

I started asking myself why people doodle. As such musings necessitate a definition, here is what The New Oxford American Dictionary offers: (hardbound edition, 2001)

doodle scribble absentmindedly: he was only doodling in the margins

I particularly like the origin entry:

early 17th cent. (originally a noun denoting a fool . . .); from Low German Dudeltopf –simpleton.

A while ago I wrote a blog about typewriters. I have long since graduated to computers as have all of the rest of us, so I recognize that neither device supports doodling. It certainly is a creative challenge on the type-written page, but on your chosen digital device it’s more inconvenient than impossible. You could open Adobe Photoshop, but without a graphic tablet—and room for it on your desk already covered with mouse, keyboard, piles of printed manuscripts, coffee mug and cat—it’s not easy to create really good doodles.

In a HuffPost blog from 2017, Anna Almendrala offers a list of personal benefits from doodling.

      1. Doodling helps you concentrate

        Generally I doodle when I have a pen and paper – not always a thing I bring to meetings these days as all my notes are taken on my laptop. But before I decided that taking notes on a laptop was somehow superior to pen and paper I would bring a tablet and pen to lectures. I can’t say it helped me concentrate because I was just listening to things that in most cases were peripheral to my job, but it sure helped the time pass

      2. Doodling can also keep you in the present moment

        Philosophy professor Jesse Prinz came up with this explanation: “ . . . if I do not doodle, I find myself having difficulty concentrating. I came to the conclusion that what doodling does for me in part is that it keeps me very receptive to information.”

        Or it can make you feel better when being critiqued by the class at Clarion West.

      3. Doodling makes you a more productive employee

        I don’t think this works for everyone. It helps to have some drawing skill, as does journalist and reporter Thy Anh: “. . . I’ll draw someone’s face, clothes . . . (what their shoes look like) . . . [it] helps me remember who they are.”

      4. Doodling is an outlet for every day creativity

        I’ll bet that writers doodle. That’s all I’ll say about that, except for sharing that the sculptor  in Alemdrala’s blog mentioned she likes to doodle before bed “to decompress”. Interesting idea

      5. Doodling helps you generate ideas

        Writers need ideas. I can’t say that I’ve gotten ideas for short stories or even novels from doodles, but I do believe that “subconscious incubation of the solution” can occur during doodling.

        All this sounds very academic and business-centric, but these are useful ideas. In my websearch in the patri-centric google-verse, I found many examples of famous male authors’ doodles: Henry Miller, Mark Twain, Samuel Becket among others, but the only lady who made the cut was Sylvia Plath.

        And as a post-script to this blog, one can find doodles anywhere. This one at a furniture store outlet just today.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Art of the Dudeltopf — 3 Comments

  1. I can’t draw at all, so I don’t doodle. I actually started writing because I couldn’t draw the pictures in my head.

    Unfortunately, I do daydream, which is not really a good thing to do while listening to lectures. I have somehow learned to both daydream and listen at the same time, and I can put the daydream on pause while I write down notes.