Draw your problem


When I get stuck on something, a problem I can’t figure out how to solve, I tend to do things like ruminate on the problem, write down some words about it, have a [talking] meeting about it, maybe go for a walk in nature. I expect that with enough dedicated thought, I’ll figure things out.

I forget (again and again!) that one of the best tools available to me is drawing. Drawing benefits the brain in many ways, according to Cara Bean’s cute illustrated ‘Why Draw?’ booklet:

  • Drawing can instigate the development of critical thinking and problem-solving.

  • The act of drawing can stimulate positive brain chemistry like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

  • Drawing can reduce stress.

  • (references)

So drawing can reduce the stress of feeling stuck, help you get unstuck, and make you feel happier. I know this, so why do I keep forgetting to draw my problems? (I think the answer is this: too much screen time keeps me overly focused on using technology to address my problems.)

It happened to me just this week. As I’ve been starting up Pictal Health, a company to help patients visualize their health histories, I’ve been feeling all of the pain, imposter syndrome, and overall discomfort that goes along with starting something outside of my comfort zone. I’m a designer who likes to solve problems and make things, and I’ve felt blocked about how to approach business models, sales strategies, and things of that nature.

I was spinning out, ruminating in circles, thinking that maybe I should do something else with my life, when I decided to draw my problem.

I’ll come back to that in just a minute, along with some other problem-drawing examples. But first, let’s talk about how to draw your problem.

Katie McCurdy