I’m an artist, therapist and cottage witch who enjoys intentional living, relaxation and creating balance. I live in a little Michigan city with my partner, Ray, and our two big dogs, Barrett and Kimber.
So, I recently finished filling up my first scribble journal – and I fell in love through the process so much that I absolutely must share this therapeutic journaling technique with you! Therapeutic scribble drawing is a way to connect with your body and soul through mindful mark-making. A basic therapeutic scribble drawing helps to improve memory, practice mindfulness skills, soothe the nervous system, improve and repair cognitive function, inspire creativity and imagination as well as improve communication and playfulness with the inner child. It doesn’t matter what the end result or art piece looks like. This process is rather focused on the feeling and experience of creating.
basic therapeutic scribble drawing (how to)
Are you ready to begin scribble drawing? If so, there are no rules aside from a few basic steps! Simply feel free to check in with yourself in the moment, choose something to write with – and scribble away! Here’s a more in-depth overview of how to practice these steps:
Check in with yourself. Observe how your body feels in this moment. To do this, you may wish to place your feet flat on the floor and begin by taking a few (3-5) mindful breaths. You may wish to count the inhale and exhale (4-5 counts each). My personal favorite count is 4 in and 7 out (this long exhale soothes the nervous system). If it feels safe, I’d like to invite you to try with your eyes closed. If you prefer to keep your eyes open, perhaps look down toward your feet to help reduce visual stimuli. Stay here for a few moments, breathe deeply, and focus on getting grounded and centered in this moment.
Rate your present moment experience somewhere on a 10 point scale. 0 = I’m feeling my worst. 10 = I’m feeling my best. Note down your number, save it for later.
Choose something to write with, perhaps a color you’re feeling drawn to at the moment – and just start scribbling! Try not to remove your pen from the page and scribble constantly in one continuous line for about 15-20 seconds. (pro tip: set a timer before you begin checking in/grounding. So, when you get to this step, you just have to push the button to begin!)
When your timer is up, hold your page out and observe your scribble. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, what size it is, etc. Simply observe what you see on the page. Are there any shapes or images hidden within your scribble drawing? Try turning the page around and observe from different angles. Feel free to slow down and take your time – as much time as you need. Which orientation does your artwork want to be viewed from? If you find any images or shapes that draw your attention, perhaps you’d like to color them in and complete a hidden image! You can choose to do anything with your artwork that you can imagine. Extend the image outside of your scribble, off the page, expand it into a scene and tell a story.
When you’re finished with your scribble drawing, practice mindful breathing and check in with yourself again. Rate how you feel in your body again using a 0-10 scale. There are no expectations for your ratings. Just observe how you’re feeling, what you’re noticing.
Scribble Drawing Journal Prompts and more creative ideas
If you’d like a bit more direction (or even just some company), I’ve created a “scribble draw with me” video for a real-time follow-along experience of how to maximize the therapeutic benefits of scribbling.
In addition, here are some scribble journaling prompts and ideas you might be interested in experimenting with:
Scribble the entire page working in the same direction.
Use your scribble journal creations as a coloring book!
Think about your artwork as a portal into another world. If you could jump into your piece, which spot on your artwork would you choose to go first? What would it feel like there? What would it be like to experience being inside of this piece of art?
Scribble with your non-dominant hand.
Scribble with multiple utensils in your hand simultaneously.
Try a mixed media scribble journal page. Play with layers and texture utilizing fabric scraps, tissue paper, various kinds of paper, stencils and modeling paste, etc.
Try various writing utensils. Mix it up with crayons, markers, pens, pencils, graphite, water-soluble supplies.
Create your scribble with a white crayon or white oil pastel. The scribble won’t show up very well, so it’s an even more mysterious process with this method. Then, create a watercolor wash layered over the top of your scribble – and watch your lines pop into view!
Write a story or a poem inspired by your scribble drawing.
Add stickers and stamps.
Play around with the feeling of “being finished” with a piece of art. What does the sensation or experience of being “done” feel like? How do you know when you’re finished? Observe the intuitive parts of yourself that “just know” and explore what this inner wisdom, this inner knowing, feels like for you.
Focus on an emotion or an intention while creating your scribble drawing. Art-making is a wonderful option for memory keeping. Artwork can also act as a container to hold whatever you’re feeling and to express what you’re going through.
Once you’re finished scribbling, find hidden shapes and images inside and bring them to life on the page.
Fill the entire page!
Listen to music while you scribble. Move your hands with the beat.
Experiment with the pressure you’re using while scribbling. Try different thicknesses of pens. Scribble fast. Scribble slow. Change the pace as you go along.
Take a few deep, mindful breaths and scribble with your eyes closed.
Create zentangle patterns or other doodles on your scribble pages.