Overcoming the Blank Page

I don’t fear many things in this world, but I must admit that one of the most intimidating things to ever have been invented is the blinking cursor of a word document that has yet to be started. That line, in my opinion, is a bully that gives creative people pause. They start to think about other things they need to do and reasons why what they were about to write can wait or worse, that is isn’t worth writing at all.

The cursor’s grandfather, the empty sheet of notebook paper, is just as cruel. Both have slowed me down. Both have kept me from coming back to writing about things here. I will not let them prevail, and as such I am back with this little fluff piece. Hopefully, it will motivate you and me both to continue working through rough patches and busy times. Consider this the reinstating of my efforts to write weekly and publish a Sunday video and provide you with a few reasons why whatever you aren’t writing needs to be written right now.

1) Two Eternal Fears: All of us, for some ungodly reason, fear two things above all else: not having enough and not being enough. Therapists will attest to the fact that most social or work oriented fears stem from these two concepts. There’s even a term for one of them (atelophobia, or the fear of imperfection, is very, very real).

If I may be frank, I believe we all SHOULD have this moderate fear of not having or being enough, but hear me out. It’s not that we should be overwhelmed by our flaws or shortcomings; that is seriously detrimental behavior. Think about it this way though, if you being to believe you have enough or are enough, why would you keep trying? In a way, this fear is a solid motivating factor that can push you to fill that blank page or do whatever else you need.

Basically, what I’m saying is that that little bit of fear is good. It’s what keeps you moving forward. As long as you can accept that fact that you will never have or be that nonexistent, impossible “enough” while still striving to achieve it, you will do just fine (paradoxical, I know).

2) Disappearing To-Do Lists: They exist, but they are not the easiest thing to come by. There is only one way to make a to-do list truly disappear, and I’m sure you can guess how. It’s hard. Lists are hard to look at, especially ones that tell you you have unfinished business. Despite that, conquering and  trashing a to-do list is an impossibly good feeling for how small of an action  it is.

When one of the things on that to-do list involves writing, say, an article for your website that you haven’t touched in far too long, it seems as though you will likely never finish. If you’re me, you’ll just keep writing that one thing over and over on new lists as you finish old ones but still skip that one task. DO NOT DO THIS. It is the most counterproductive thing I have ever done, and I abhor doing it. Whatever that thing is, seriously, just do it. It WILL have to get done eventually, and if you don’t start it, you are only putting off the inevitable.

If it’s writing you need to do, just DO it. Even if it’s terrible (like this post for example) and needs serious work (also this post), just vomit the words onto the screen and move on. Once you get that groundwork laid out in a draft, it only gets easier from there. Now is the time to get that writing off the to-do list. Finish reading and then jump in. You’ll be glad you did.

3) Don’t Ignore It: There’s this feeling. It’s small, sometimes barely perceptible, but when you have it, it cannot be ignored. It’s motivation. For some people. it’s fleeting. That’s why it can’t be allowed to fade away when it arrives.

I’m the kind of person who grossly overestimates how long my motivation will last, and as such, it tends to pass me by on the first two or three runs. I’m lucky that it happens to get stuck in a metaphorical revolving door for a few spins, but you can’t bank on that either. If you feel even the slightest bit like you could get a thesis statement out or add a few paragraphs to that story, do it. Right now. Don’t think you can finish one more thing; that’s literally the motivation fading in real time. If you can override that urge, you will harness that motivated feeling and make good use of it.

Well, it’s a short list, but it’s a good start. Hopefully, it will help you and me both to get back to work. The blank page isn’t a thing to fear; it’s a thing to cherish. An opportunity to create anything from a novel to a position paper. So, if you feel that little bit of motivation, don’t ignore it. It knows you have enough and are enough to get the job done.






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