Your creativity and intelligence have a special relationship. Regardless of your skill level, when you draw you benefit your body and mind. Your memories are easier to access, and you learn at a deeper level.
Drawing is a superpower you can use to become smarter and more successful.
When I played Dark Souls for the first time, it was incredibly fun. I loved the gothic architecture and the freedom of control with the character. I made my way through the first few minutes until the first boss– the Asylum Demon – was right below the archway I was standing in. Like any other action game, I figured I was set up perfectly for a cool action shot, killing the monster in one stroke from above. I did not expect to only take half of his health, or to do so little damage with my tiny sword after the fact, as he batted me into the wall and my first death screen.
You’d think I would stop after failing so miserably. After all the success I had with destroying monsters up until that point, I went down quickly! Still, I continued. Like many fans of the franchise, I would go on to kill the Asylum Demon and feel pure satisfaction as the reward center of my brain lit up like a Christmas tree.
When you’re taught that learning is a struggle, that you will put in effort and fail countless times before you get it right, you tend to see those failures as lessons – they are the key moments along your journey to mastery, not mistakes.
Learning to draw makes you more willing to tackle tough challenges because you know even when you fail, you’re executing deep learning. That deep learning will help you get to the next level of your skill. The Asylum Demon was a tough challenge, but I learned how to tackle him by understanding it would take practice. I would have to experiment and remove the fear of failure to push ahead.
Your ability to tackle challenging new subjects as you learn to draw creates mental toughness that only gets stronger over time.
A lot of artists tend to have some form of depression or anxiety, so knowing that creative pursuits can help you relieve those symptoms should be a bit of a relief.
A study from 2007 showed that the simple act of drawing for 20 minutes could significantly reduce a negative mood. Viewing art was comparatively less successful at doing the same thing. It’s likely that drawing puts things under your control, allowing you the freedom to be more comfortable in your own mind.
I suspect it also has a bit to do with flow states. The longer you spend drawing, the more you're drawn into a flow state – a meditative state of mind where you are fully immersed in an activity. The ego falls away, releasing you from anxiety and placing you in a state of focus that you can use for deep learning.
Learning styles are not a thing. You don’t learn better when you hear information versus reading that same information. What is a thing, is that one of the most powerful tools for learning is drawing.
Drawing forces you to process information visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. It simultaneously uses multiple forms of retention resulting in a wide array of connections in the brain. When you draw you engage in the physical movement, you observe the imagery, and process the new information. Your memory and ability to recall that memory depend largely on how many connections are made to that new information. Simply by drawing it, you can make a substantial connection and improve your memory and retention.
You don’t even have to be good at drawing to see this boost in memory and retention. Even as a beginner, the simple act of drawing makes you smarter.