Why Great Creators Noodle, Doodle, and Jot


I listened recently to my friend Dan Rubright describe how he created a song. Dan’s a great jazz guitarist and composer who appeared on the Songs Out Loud podcast and dissected his tune “Prepare for Departure.”

This podcast blew me away — not just because I love great music…

…but because I love to create…

…and I help others discover the creative power within them.

When I discuss with coaches, consultants, and business leaders how to create powerful, business-building stories, I emphasize: Storytelling is NOT a magic art, reserved just for those with special talent.

We all have the power to create stories.

We just have to unleash and discover the power…

…and then work within a structured process to craft and deliver stories.

To Start Creating: Noodle, Doodle, and Jot

Here’s what Dan does. He picks up a guitar and he starts to noodle. He plays around and improvises without getting hung up on where it belongs, where it fits.

“It all comes from just that noodling on your own. (Start with) those little things. And little things add to little things, and then ultimately, it’s this piece that you know you just want to give it away like a gift,” Dan says.

Dan’s noodling reminds me of journaling. I write in my journal daily. Noodling with words, jotting down ideas.

Sometimes, I tap an idea that quickly finds a home in an article, email, blog post, video, or some other piece of coherent content.

Sometimes not.

Keep the Homeless Noodles, Doodles and Jots So They Can Sprout Later

Dan records noodling sessions on his phone. Often, he listens to the recordings and thinks, “I don’t have any place to put this…at least not now.”

Here’s how Dan describes it in the podcast: “You know sometimes you have to say no to something that’s really cool…because it’s just not right in the particular context you’re in.”

Give yourself permission to create without immediate purpose. Say, “No.” Say, “Not right now.” Those creations often bear fruit later.

That’s why Dan keeps the recordings — just as I keep my word noodles in my journal.

Dan and I revisit the noodles and often discover meaning and context we didn’t see at first. Those noodles often find a home.

During the podcast episode, Dan listens to a clip he recorded while composing “Prepare for Departure.” The noodle didn’t fit in the song.

But as he discusses it with the podcast host, Aaron Doerr, Dan says, “I’m glad we are looking back on this tune because (that noodle is) really good. I think I’ll work on that soon.”

So that lonely, homeless noodle may grow into something more.

Build a Creation Process

You may be thinking, “Noodling is NOT a structured process.” But Dan’s noodling sessions don’t happen accidentally. Dan has a process that includes noodling. Dan applies systems and uses tools to record and revisit those noodles. There’s a ton of habit and structure in what Dan does.

If not for Dan’s systems and processes, “Prepare for Departure” may never have taken off. And the homeless noodle, which could blossom into a song, may never have been recorded.

Same goes for me and storytelling. So many of my best stories grew from seeds I planted in my journal — or recorded to my phone. My journal is a tool. So, too, is my phone on which I record voice memos, random thoughts, and story ideas when they come to me.

We Are All Creative Beings — If We Choose to Create

Choose to noodle. Choose to doodle. Choose to jot down your thoughts.

It may seem aimless and random at first. But if you establish a creation habit, you will record ideas that deserve a home. And over time, you will create something powerful that will captivate and inspire others.

Whenever you’re ready…here are a few ways we can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you’ll land more clients:

1) Follow Tom Ruwitch on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Attend our free training: “How to Harness the Magnetic Power of Storytelling…” Discover how to transform marketing from a confusing, resource-draining hassle into something that’s simple, fun AND productive. Details and registration here.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.