I have a confession: I’ve been bitten by the adult coloring book “bug.” Granted that I only have one such book right now, but coloring has become a new favorite hobby recently. And judging from the phenomenal worldwide success of adult coloring books last year, millions of other people have fallen in love again with this childhood pastime – and discovered some surprising benefits by doing so.
So, why should writers give adult coloring books a try? Here are five reasons.
1) Coloring Can Reduce Stress and Increase Mindfulness
Between day jobs, family life, writing, and other commitments, our bodies and minds rarely have time to rest. So, it’s important that we find ways to slow down, relax, and even let ourselves smile. What better way to do that than by coloring and feeling like a kid again?
Numerous studies and testimonials on the blogosphere have reported that coloring helps us manage stress and relieve anxiety and tension. It can also help us practice mindfulness by engaging our senses of touch and sight, and by reminding us to focus on the present and think positively. No wonder I often feel the urge to color after a stressful day at work. It quiets my mind the same way that journaling or meditation would while stimulating my creative side.
2) It Can Improve Focus and Organize Your Thoughts
Juggling multiple priorities, forcing our brains to multi-task, and having an overall busy lifestyle can also make us feel scatterbrained. Coloring doesn’t place those demands on us. It allows us to focus on a single object for an extended period of time, like with knitting or doing puzzles. It also gives us the freedom to choose how we want to fill in those blank spaces and make the final product aesthetically pleasing.
Oddly enough, writers need strong concentration and mental organization skills in order to succeed at their craft. If you’re looking for a way to hone either, coloring is a fun and creative way of doing so.
3) It’s Not a Huge Time Commitment
Coloring isn’t something you need to do every day. After all, hobbies are meant to be fun and pursued when time allows, whether it’s an hour or two each week or once every other week. I do one page per week from the Big Book of Mandalas for Inner Peace and Inspiration, and each mandala takes about an hour to complete. Finding that time hasn’t compromised my writing schedule, and now coloring feels like a natural part of my routine.
4) It’s Another Outlet for Your Creativity
Many writers are amazingly talented outside their primary craft. Some enjoy sketching, dancing, playing or composing music – and those are just a handful of ways we can express ourselves creatively. Why not add coloring to that list?
It might not seem like an art form, since it’s an easy skill compared to others. Yet, coloring is often considered a branch of art therapy. And if you think about it, coloring isn’t much different from painting. It requires us to use crayons, markers, and similar utensils; and as I mentioned in Reason #2, we can choose which colors to use despite having a predetermined space to fill. We’re creating when we’re coloring – and for someone like myself who struggles to draw straight lines with a ruler, I feel a giddy sense of satisfaction each time I finish a page.
5) It Can Become Part of Your Writing Process
If coloring is like any other secondary creative outlet, then it can be handy for more than fun or stress relief. It can help us break through writer’s block, or act as a reward or “mental calming tool” after a productive writing session. For some writers, it might even spark new story ideas and help them better understand their characters or aspects of world-building.
This comes back to the argument of why coloring can be considered an art form. Like other mediums, coloring allows us to tap into our instincts when we’re not working on our WIP. Anything that has the ability to boost our overall creativity and keep us “in the flow” is worth trying. So, why not pick up an adult coloring book, sharpen those colored pencils you haven’t used in a while, and see where your imagination takes you?
Are you a fan of adult coloring books? What do you enjoy most about them? Do you have book recommendations for anyone who wants to try this hobby?
Sara Letourneau is a Massachusetts-based writer who practices joy and versatility in her work. In addition to writing for DIY MFA, she’s revising a YA fantasy novel and reviewing tea for A Bibliophile’s Reverie. Her poetry has appeared in The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, The Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and two anthologies. Learn more about Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, and Twitter.