The word doodling is a well known word around the world, but people seem to have many different perceptions of what it means.  I guess it’s because Doodling is not perceived as a very serious activity and a need to define it has not been pressing.

I would like to offer a definition of doodling since I am dedicating my life to developing this wonderful way of drawing and way of thinking.

Doodle definition simple:A doodle is taking a random line with no specific meaning and develop it into a picture.


Historically, the word doodle appeared in the 17th century and meant “fool”, so doodling became a term to describe mindless scribbles, loose and dreamy cartoons or other useless pictures you would draw when not trying too hard.  Often these doodles would be left unfinished and open ended.  The classic example is a person on a long phone call, holding the phone with the left hand and keeping the right hand busy with doodles.

From this point of view, its not surprising that doodling is seen mostly as fun and not a very useful exercise, but as with everything else in life, things are what you make out of them.  I have discovered that doodling has great potential both as a form of art and a form of creative pudding_2thinking, hence my definition below.

Creative doodling explained: To fully understand a doodle you need to understand “random input”.  Random input is a well known tool for creative thinking and acts as something that is put in at random to break with your habits of thinking in order to think up new ideas.

A doodle has great potential for working out such randomness.  Let’s first look at how a doodle typically starts its life.  You start with drawing a squiggle or a shape and using this as a starting point, you develop your doodle.

A very common thing is to use something that already exists on the paper like a letterhead or somebody’s scribble and you continue from there.

So let me summarize a few points about doodling:

  1. Doodling often starts from a random starting point.
  2. Doodling is free, open and relaxed
  3. Doodling is open ended, and not closed up or finished.
  4. Doodling does not have a specific end goal in mind and allows change of direction and spontaneous ideas.
  5. Doodling is gives a concrete, visual end product.

If we give these casual doodle principles some analysis and structure, we can build it into a new art form, a new way of thinking and a dynamic training program for imagination and creativity.   I call this creative Doodling.

pudding_3Creative Doodling.

  1. The random starting point is interesting from the point of view of creating ideas.  The nature of randomness is that it makes you break with habits, routines and regular patterns of thinking.  It pushes you into a new track.
  2. Doodling is relaxed because the very concept suggests that you cannot go wrong, its just for play.  This puts you in a state of relaxed focus, which is extremely beneficial for idea creation.  You loosen up, the pressure to achieve goes away and you find a comfortable flow of thought.
  3. The fact that the nature of doodling is free and open means that you are open for changes, add on’s and spontaneous ideas.  If the doodle starts in one direction, but takes a whole new direction in the middle of the process, you don’t mind because you didn’t have a fixed idea in the first place.
  4. Doodling is open ended and you can continue growing and evolving it in a more dynamic way than a conventional cartoon.  It fits the nature of idea development perfectly.  A doodle is a visual mirror of the idea process, and at the end you have a concrete visual record of the whole thing.
  5. Doodling is concrete and visual and gives feedback to yourself  as you are working and communicates well with others.  It provides a map of ideas and possibilities and a practical discussion document.

So there is the definition in full:

“Doodling is a drawing developed from a random, visual starting point, like a squiggle, and can be used to break with patterns of thinking, stimulate imaginary images and ideas or provide visual brainstorms, often with a surprising and fresh result.”


Øistein Kristiansen

Fredrikstad 19th April 2013