From Doodle to Done: Organizing the Stimulus Queue

Until I packed 26 hand-painted needlepoint canvases (some with stitch guides and threads) for shipment to an eBay store, I didn’t “own” the depth of my project queue.

A queue (noun) is just a series of things arranged one behind the other. Or, queue (the verb) means to place in a sequence.

Twenty-six projects cleared from my thoughts, storage and life. Whew! I feel accomplishment, progress and movement to clarity. Welcome to simplify and de-clutter.

Instead of a plethora of needlework-in-waiting, I have three items to complete. (DISCLOSURE: That was before I found two more projects in another bag.)

Thanks to my conversation with Coach Karen Van Cleve, I’m ready to prioritize the myriad of “opportunities” facing me in my studio so I can choose what best serves my interests now. My spreadsheet queue raises the bar on focus.

It took a coaching session and the structure of a 3” x 3” artist tile to get to this point. Zentangle is an art-form where all you need is paper, pencil and pen. A relaxing process, it can be done anywhere and requires no “artistic” talent.

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Doodle to Done New Year

©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Doodle to Done New Year

The blank slate of the New Year beckoned me to Zentangle as a way to add a new technique to my repertoire. I drew a number of squares in my journal, promised to give myself 24 minutes a day to play, and immediately wanted to quit.  Never a drawing person, I suddenly questioned my choice of learning.


“Get a grip!” I exclaimed and started. Once begun, it was surprisingly easy to lose myself in the task. Only a few experiments later I can truthfully tell you, “this” works.

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” -Anne Sexton

I described to Coach Karen what I like about the activity:

  • no attachment to the finished project, including no vision of what my creation might look like complete
  • mindless, hand-driven activity to let one’s mind wander
  • a way to get out of my head and into a feeling space where creativity just happens
  • the introduction of a new process that cannot be done by rote
  • experimental action
  • handwork

No one is more surprised than me at how this activity became a useful process. I’ll keep you posted as I evaluate results.

In what ways do you induce creativity?