Two capital sins in one doodle


I know, right? You’re thinking, “So what? It’s a bunch of doodles. What’s the big deal?”

There are, in fact, two big “sins” in this piece (keep in mind that I’m using the word “sin” a bit tongue-in-cheek; my conscience is (mostly) fine with this piece of art, and I’m using the word to make a point):

The first “sin” is the media I chose. I used a sharpie! *gasp* …somewhere, somehow in my mind (and in my upbringing too, I suppose), I came to believe that using sharpie in any project was basically a big no-go. A waste or a good sharpie, my subconscious tells me. A terrible thing to do, to waste a perfectly good sharpie, and on a doodle, of all things. I don’t even plan on using that doodle for anything!

The second “sin” is my use of a sketchbook. Sketchbooks in my mind have somehow come to be equaled with awesome art. Art journals, sketches,  flawless pen inkings. But not doodles! For shame. And, to top it all off, I didn’t even put another piece of paper behind it to protect my book in case the marker bled through. Going to hell in a handbasket, this kid right here.

The point I’m trying to make is this: the preconceived notion I have (and maybe you’ve had at some point too) is that all art must be perfect, beautiful, purposeful, and a good use of materials. I have spent most of my life being afraid to really freely explore, with reckless abandon, the depths of a media, for fear that I’m being “wasteful” or “sloppy” or “ugly.” I spend so much time justifying my work of art that it does become that- work, instead of creative play. And it’s that, not the use of sharpie in a sketchbook doodle, that’s the real shame.

If you’ve ever experienced the same self-inflicted guilt I mentioned above, here’s a suggestion I have for you, to help you break free of the same problems I face. Buy a composition book, or better yet, adopt an old one that’s half used and has no foreseeable future. On the front page (or the inside cover), write a letter to yourself, granting yourself permission to fully waste, destroy, or otherwise ruin the book. Sign and date it, the whole bit.

And then do it! I use mine for to-do lists, brainstorming, notes at meetings, cutting or tearing out (*gasp*) scrap paper… the whole lot. I still find myself balking at the use of my book for some things, but I force myself to push through and utterly waste the book according to my needs. Because I remove my inhibitions on my creativity, I am finally free, really free, to create.

So come create with me! What are some ways you have stepped over your fears or inhibitions and embrace the creative process?


11 thoughts on “Two capital sins in one doodle

  1. First entry and already I know I’m going to follow you. You’re a kindred spirit I tell you! Sharpies are my favorite tool for doodling! Why do you not like using them? What do you normally use for your linework?
    I absolutely love your suggestion about carrying a notebook around to do everything with. I used to do this, but the idea of writing a letter of permission to myself sounds like something I desperately need. I once had a therapist print up permission slips that I was to use to allow myself to not be perfect. It was very difficult to sign those for myself.
    I look forward to exploring your blog and I thank you for joining mine. Please comment if something I say/do strikes you.
    Loads of positive energies!


    1. I don’t think it’s that I don’t like using sharpie, it’s more that I feel guilty using sharpie. But sharpies are made to be used, so I don’t know what the big deal is… it’s all in my head, I think. And if you want a copy of my “permission statement,” just let me know! Thanks for the comment! 🙂


  2. Here’s my Permission Statement:
    I, [insert name here], hereby christen this notebook as my guilt-free scrap notebook. I hereby bestow upon myself full permission to waste, destroy, scribble, deface, and otherwise harm this notebook with irresponsible, insignificant, and highly temporary works of whim and fancy. Nothing is too cluttered, out of order, or random for this notebook. It serves the sole purpose of being a dumping ground for any physical, tactile creative needs that I would otherwise disapprove of including in a composition notebook. That is all. Or maybe not. It doesn’t even matter! The end! Signed, [cue sloppy signature here] [date]


  3. Some of my best doodles were on scraps of paper during boring meetings at work. But sure, give me nice paper and a charcoal pencil and suddenly I can’t draw. I have at least 5 nearly empty sketchbooks because I don’t give myself permission for unleashed creativity. Good idea with the note!


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