One of my tutors at University insisted that playing with Lego helped her to concentrate - though I've gotta say that as she beavered away at her miniature Lego Taj Mahal, she didn't exactly boost my confidence in the complicated third year project I was attempting to explain. I guess I know how my Maths teacher must have felt when he caught me focusing on Pythagorus' Theorem through the medium of comic strip heroines painstakingly rendered in biro. (Honest, Sir.)
But, what is perhaps even more useful about the art of doodling, is its purpose as a medium for the unconscious expression of ideas. Whatever random line or shape or squiggle comes out of your pen has fallen directly out of your head with no argument or logic behind it. Nothing is too silly, too meaningless, too fanciful, too abstract, too impossible to be doodled, and as a result, a doodle can be the space in which the spark of a really good idea is born. It's what we preach in The Academy and, these days, it's what I practice, too.
Now, when I start any project - at work or at home - there is a period in which I produce ideas; hundreds of little unresolved fragments made of things I’ve seen, heard and made before. There's such satisfaction in putting pen to paper and shedding those ideas; only when they’re out of your head can you begin to play with them, sculpt them into something else.
That goes for artists and non-artists, alike. As Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, says: 'The perceived skill has absolutely nothing to do with he quality of the learning experience for the doodler."
If a doodle is a little like a spa treatment for the mind - leaving it relaxed and receptive to new information, then perhaps visual note-taking, sketch-notes, graphic facilitation or scribing are more like a really effective workout; an exercise in making the information you receive easy to understand.
When you take visual notes, you listen, digest, and reproduce the information in the form of descriptive drawings that represent what you have heard. They force you to understand what you have been listening to, and if you do forget, they serve as a visual aid to help you to remember.
I was still at University when I started working for Scriberia, and immediately, I noticed how what I learned here transformed the way I thought and studied. I realised that my love of drawing could - and should - be put to use, as an aide to learning and thinking. Why had I spent so many years making reams of written notes in lectures, when instead I could have been letting pens run wild with the information I was trying to absorb?
I started experimenting with sketch-noting lectures and project meetings. I went from being a slack-jawed, barely conscious audience-member, to being a fully "present" note-taking machine. Sharing those visual notes with my peers allowed them to benefit from the way I had learned. Brownie points a plenty and I guess I found my calling, too.
So, today I see drawing not just as a thing I've always loved to do, but as a tool for so much more; communicating, designing, exploring, explaining and thinking. And when you use it to discover and learn, all you are really doing is going back to when you were first gripping a crayon in your fat little fist, and absorbing the world around you by recreating it on paper.