I’ve always drawn all over any available surface, almost involuntarily. I doodle to keep my hands busy while my brain is somewhere else, like in class or a meeting, and I’ve found it actually helps me concentrate. I often end up with drawings that are super interesting and/or weird, I guess because I’m just pulling directly from my subconscious without thinking too hard about it. Some of my favorite worlds and characters originated in the margins of school notes.
For that same reason, though, I tend to be super uncomfortable when people notice that I’m drawing and want to see. My absentminded doodles are dumped out onto the page with no filter, and they feel a lot more personal than my more structured work.
Plus, when people get all gushy about little scribbles that I expended almost no effort on, I feel uncomfortable and sort of guilty about it. I’m terrible at accepting praise for stuff that I slaved over, much less random doodles that I’ll toss in the recycling bin on my way out the door.
Does that sound arrogant or just crazy? Oh, woe is me, people like the things that I draw. I know that’s a stupid thing to be uncomfortable about but I’m a shy person and a terrible perfectionist with this weird Puritanical work ethic that makes me hate being rewarded for anything unless I worked my ass off for it. I have no idea why. I’m working on it.
Anyways, I usually just toss my drawings without a second thought, but occasionally I see the nugget of a character or a story or a world that’s interesting, and that I’d like to flesh out. So I tear it out of whatever work-related document I’m defacing and stuff it in my pocket. Point is, I tend to accumulate a bunch of terrible scratch paper with drawings that I love on them. Almost every early drawing in the big stack I took from my parents’ house is on notebook paper. More recent doodles from work are on the backs of engineering drawings, or sticky notes, or receipts.
So I’ve got all these drawings floating around in my life, and I rarely actually do anything with them. I have a lot of ideas, generally, for stories or more formal art pieces that never come to fruition, so this accumulation of scratch paper sort of mirrors the accumulation of “scratch ideas” in my brain. Only so many hours in a day, and I waste far too many of them.
One cool thing about my collection of doodles that I hadn’t thought about before today, is that I remember roughly where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling when I drew them. I guess they’re sort of like a diary that way. I know some people keep picture diaries for that reason, but I’ve never been able to get into the habit of carrying a sketchbook around with me. I guess my picture diary is just really disorganized.
Maybe I’ll figure out some sort of system someday. Until then I’ll just keep finding strange things shoved into pockets and purses.