Were you a chronic doodler in school?

Many of us enjoyed doodling along the edges of our notes when we were in middle and highschool… Zig Zaggy lines, hearts, the names of our crush in big bubble lettering…

The pages would practically be filled from margin to margin.

And now, research has proven that all that doodling…

Has some pretty wonderful benefits (more on those in a moment).

But you might be wondering… What exactly is the difference between doodling and drawing?

Because it’s true, many of the benefits overlap. But there is a slight difference between doodling and drawing that’s worth mentioning. So let’s cover the differences… And then share those incredible benefits to doodling!

So what are the differences between doodling and drawing?

Alvalyn Lundgren says it best in her article on the line between doodling and drawing:

“A doodle has no real purpose but to keep a person occupied. It doesn’t need to depict anything. Doodling is calming. To engage in mark-making quiets us down and we can actually slow down.”

“Doodling is to the [artist] what stream-of-consciousness is to the writer.”

“Drawing also quiets us, but we’re not daydreaming. We’re observing, studying, analyzing and moving, our brains and body aligned in a singular purpose. We become quiet because we’re focused on one thing and separating ourselves from distractions.”

~Alvalyn Lundgren

Doodling can even be a stepping stone to learning to draw better, more expressively, and with more technique.

It’s one of the reasons Simple Daily Drawing includes some more doodle-like prompts in the daily prompts list – such as “Zig Zag Pattern” – to keep your skills growing. It also allows for opportunities where you can experience more of an “aimless” approach as doodling does, and lead you into some of the benefits of doodling!

What are the benefits of doodling that overlap with the benefits of drawing?

1. Helps Your Brain Go Into ‘Attentive Auto-Pilot’ Mode

Or in other words… Doodling allows certain parts of your brain to take a break, while still being able to pay attention to what is happening around you. If you want to learn more about what exactly happens in your brain, check out our blog What’s Happening In Your Brain When You Draw.

2. Supports Your Memory

Doodling keeps you in that Attentive Auto-Pilot state. So your brain does not completely drift into the land of daydreams… You’re still aware of what’s happening around you, and therefore your brain is still in a somewhat active state to better recall information. If you want to learn more about how drawing can also increase memory retention, check out our blog The Best Method For Better Memory.

3. Helps You Process Your Feelings

When you doodle, you can quickly transfer any emotions you might be feeling from wherever it’s taken hold of your body (the anxiety squeezing your chest, the frustration vibrating in your forehead, or the anger clenching your fists) and extend that energy to your pen and paper instead. If you’d like to learn how you can use color to express your emotions, check out our blog Using The Color Wheel To Express Your Emotions.

4. Decreases Your Stress

Doodling the same shapes over and over can calm you down and give your body something else to focus on. If you want some ideas for different ways to do this, check out our blog 3 Simple Ways To Practice Meditative Drawing.

5. Boosts Your Mood

Perhaps our most favorite benefit of all… Doodling can help boost your mood. It can pull you out of that bad headspace or winter blues, and allow you to focus on something that makes you smile instead. If you’d like to learn more about how it boosts your mood, check out our blog Art As Medicine: How To Combat The Winter Blues.

Whether you are doodling or drawing… Those are some pretty incredible benefits to gain. So next time you might be feeling sluggish about putting more extreme focus on a drawing… Give some doodles a go.

You’ll still get some goodies out of it for your mental wellbeing, keep your spirits high, and help you get back on track to drawing more purposeful artwork again whenever you’re ready!