Doodling Calendar | Bullet Journal Monthly Layout by Wondershins

Field Notes: Doodling (Part I)

Here’s a little confession – I don’t really know how to doodle. Perhaps that sounds a bit silly. After all, isn’t doodling a very rough, very raw drawing that is aimlessly scribbled? Something you do carelessly in the empty margins of a page, your hand wandering here and there of its own free will?

It doesn’t sound like it would be difficult, but the truth is, I am horrible at it. Where doodles are carefree and unworried, I am rigid like hardwood floors, polished smooth. I lack the flexibility to doodle because I seek out perfection before beginning.

When I start an illustration, my mind drafts the concept, diagramming imaginary lines to create the bones of what will become a full drawing. Once it is all figured out, and only then, do I put pencil to paper. Carefully calculated, meticulously thought out.

The enemy of the daydream-y doodle.

My eyes have shot stars whenever I gazed upon pages of doodles done by someone with a more free-flowing spirit than I. Quick pen strokes capturing precision that have not been over-thought. Blotches of color that look seemingly planned but are splashed on in mere seconds.

What is the secret that I have yet to discover?

Doodling Calendar | Bullet Journal Monthly Layout by Wondershins

The theme for my February is “Little by Little,” a challenge to create little things in small amounts of time. Tiny things that will lead to big steps, such as sketching out ideas for art prints that might make it to my future online shop. Writing little snippets and musings that will allow me to connect with you, my dear Reader, and inspire you.

As much as I love painting full, completed works of art, I can see the benefit in doodles. When I only have 5 minutes a day to draw or write, I can’t let that stop me from wanting to be creative. I need to use that time to my advantage. It might not seem like much, but doodling for 5 minutes a day can get me farther than doing a complete illustration twice a year.

So for this month, to get myself to doodle more – and become confident in doing so – I will be doodling something memorable or happy-making every single day. Straight to pen, no pencil. Every imperfect stroke or messed-up line will remain. There is no time to carefully pencil out the skeleton of a doodle, so I’ll jump right into the frightening permanence of ink.

Last month, I had taken on bullet journaling as my challenge, and I lovingly created a monthly spread that was quickly forgotten. Not wanting it to be something so easily tossed aside, I decided to turn it into a daily doodle in each box of the day. Seeing as how it helped me let loose a bit, I am continuing this in February, in hopes of becoming a better doodler and unlocking the secrets of doodling.

Thoughts & Observations

What I have observed in these daily doodles is that, well, I really can do it! It’s raw and imperfect, but it is so carefree and delightful. It takes me a minute to do each doodle, and when I’m done, I actually feel like I want to continue drawing. Which makes me think that if ever I’m having difficulty starting a bigger illustration or painting, perhaps I need a quick doodle to give me a little push and get me on the right track.

One of the biggest challenges of mine is to leave Perfection behind. She can’t be present when I am doodling, and when I first started this mini project, there was a small hesitation before I started my doodle. I would try to think of the right layout, imagine the way the lines will fall before I put pen to page.

Slowly, I am getting better at that, delving right in with a “Who cares? I don’t have to show this to anyone!” mentality, and I look forward to filling up the calendar this way – with happy doodles rather than checklists of To-Do’s.

Another thing is that I am able to appreciate the little wonders of the everyday with this little exercise. As someone who works from home and has a very routinely schedule, it can be tough to come up with something happy or memorable every day (that is not always food and the same scenery), so it takes an extra effort to look at my day and truly appreciate something.

Whenever I look at my calendar now, I smile because I remember each of these moments during the day. Even if it’s as simple and mundane as perfectly fried eggs.


I think one of the great things about doodling is that it can happen anytime, anywhere, and with whatever you have on hand.

Is there a certain time or moment when you like to doodle most? In what state of mind do you usually find yourself dreamily doodling in the margins of whatever you are working on?


  1. Your February 4 and 7 doodles 😂

    I’ve only doodled in class and whenever I didn’t sit so close to the front that the teacher/professor can see me doodling. And my state of mind when doodling is usually, well, boredom. I doodled to keep myself entertained and my hands busy since falling asleep in class wasn’t an option.

    I’ve always doodled the same kinds of things: female faces and eyes! A part of me wished I was more inclined to doodle other things, like shapes or patterns that I’ve seen some really creative classmates draw, but nooo. I had to be creepy and draw human faces in my chemistry notes.

    I can’t wait to see your February doodle heart all filled out! By the way, I’m curious… what does the February 4 doodle say?

    • Hahaha! Those two crack me up as well! February 4th’s says, “I look at Maude”. Max and I watched a stand-up comedy by Judd Apatow on Netflix, and he had this one bit where he kept saying that he looked at his daughter, and she would just have that face! It was hilarious! I didn’t know any other way to illustrate “watching stand-up on Netflix.” Haha!

      And on the 7th, we went and bought a fully assembled chair, and Max rolled me all the way from the garage, past the lobby, up the elevator, and into the apartment! Wheeeee!

      The funny thing is that I always doodle eyes, too! I feel the same way about what you said about doodling. I couldn’t seem to do all the free-flowing patterns, so I would either draw an eye or a circle with lots of shadows. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about classes and falling asleep in them anymore! I think I had to force myself to take unimportant notes just so I could be writing and not falling asleep.

  2. Doodling is challenging for me as well. While I find freedom in the quick and natural strokes, I often end up with a design I really love, but then can’t seem to recreate it with clean lines later. >.<

    • Oh, I agree! I have learned to embrace those original first sketches, because I feel like they captured something special in that moment of creation, something that is not there in the second, third, fourth attempt. That’s why I am in awe of people who can do studies of things and keep drawing something over and over again. I feel like I would never grasp what I uncovered in the original!

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