Even Bad Drawing Are a Good Thing

The most common comment I get when I am speaking, or when people watch my Draw Your Future TEDx talk is “But I can’t draw!”

In many sessions I mention that I am going to ask participants to draw and I can literally see people cringe. Why? Well if someone called you out for being a bad drawer, it probably stunted your drawing skills. No one likes not being “good” at something, so we freak out just thinking about it.

Most of us who stopped drawing, did so because we were ridiculed. In kindergarten, when asked to draw one of those rag dolls, I drew Raggedy Andy, (big surprise) and was publicly humiliated by the teacher in front of the class. It took 15 years for me to want to try to draw again. Then, the only reason I tried was because I had a powerful dream of a box flying through space and I wanted to draw it, so I sat in on an art class just to see if I could.  My drawing wasn’t perfect but I loved using the pastels.

Now let’s be clear, we start drawing where we left off, and that first drawing looked like a 5 year old had done it. That’s ok though! Make your ego take a back seat, it’s not helping here.

Only later, when I saw a graphic recorder at work did I think “Hey! That looks like fun,” and started to practice in earnest. My early drawings were basic shapes, nothing fancy.

Here’s a few things you should know about drawing: Doodling or coloring are two of the easiest ways to calm yourself down, increase your productivity, and unleash your creativity.  So when I say “Let’s draw a picture”, in your head you might think, “holy #$*&!”, but if I changed my language and said, “Let’s doodle!” the reaction would be different. Doodling is what we all did when we were bored in class. It’s fun, stupid fun, and many of us did bubble lettering on our school notebooks or folders.  There’s no such thing as “good doodling”, you just do it!

Drawing (aka doodling) engages you and helps you be present, so it’s an awesome warm-up for meetings, studying, writing or envisioning your future. Try this with me. Draw these basic shapes:

Now look around you. Everything in the universe comes from these basic shapes . Look, that ceiling is a rectangle.  That moon is round like a circle, or it’s two parentheses put together.  That bike of yours has round shapes, and straight lines. Look closer at the things around you and then try to draw a simple one, looking back and forth between your drawing and the object. Invite your critic to take the back seat. You are five years old again, be five and explore.

To get better at something you need to do it every day for 21 days. That’s my challenge to you, Creative Genius. Draw something simple for 21 days in a row and notice how calm you get, how fun it is, and how a simple drawing will change everything.


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