How can we deal with a blank page?
You know the situation. It is there staring at you, teasing you with complete nothingness. Laughing at your impotent attempts to make a start. The blank page. Scourge of creative people everywhere. Okay, this blank page may not just be a piece of paper. It could be a metaphor for paper, canvas, sound recorder… you name it. The thing is it is blank, you don’t really know what to do and it is there staring at you.
Being the loving person I am I don’t want this to happen to you. So here are ten ways to deal with a blank page that is refusing to accept any form of creativity from you.
You really don’t need this sort of pressure right now. And you certainly don’t have to put up with the mocking blank page in front of you. So walk away. No seriously, walk away. The more you look at the page the more you’ll do nothing. So walk away and do something else. The page will be there when you come back and then you will be ready to deal with it.
Take a tiny step
Often a project can seem too big for us. We see the beautiful end product and just can’t see how we get from the blank sheet to the point of completion. So think, what is the one thing I could do now to begin the journey? However small that step is, take it.
Fall asleep… almost
That twilight moment just when you are drifting off into dreamland is a highly creative time. Quite often if I’m stuck I’ll go and lie down and wait for that moment. When it comes it seems like the creative floodgates have opened and the ideas begin to pour out. The only problem is making sure you get up and don’t fall asleep and forget what has just revealed itself.
Make some templates
You know that blank page doesn’t have to be blank! One thing that helps a lot is to have some templates ready. I write music, I enjoy composing songs and recording them on my little computer sequencer. This is my blank page. But I have created a series of template files that already have some of the basics preloaded. You can do the same when writing poetry or prose, and preparing backgrounds for images is helpful as well.
Find a book that is not linked with what you need to create. Read and take in what it is about. Then take the subject, or the situation, and mix it with what you need to do. Do a little bit of creative surrealism. It’ll break the blockages that are stopping your creative energy and create some new and very interesting solutions.
Put on some music and let it interfere with your stuck thought process. The music will take some of your mental energy away from the problem and while it is doing that the rest of your energy can focus on the task at hand, perhaps with a little bit of subconscious automation thrown in.
As Murakami says, we think about things when we run. Bjorn from Abba used to come up with a lot of the band’s lyrics when he went running. Actually, any exercise is helpful, it gets the adrenalin running and if you’re staring at a blank page that is exactly what you need.
Rip it out
Do you really need to do this, this way? Go on, just don’t do it. Grab the piece of paper and put it in the bin; the recycle bin of course.
Perhaps the problem is that you see the blank page as part of the final product. However, the blank page can be the place where you simply pour out your ideas. Mind-mapping is a wonderful tool for doing this. Write a central idea in the middle of the page and then any write any words that relate to it radiating out. If you want to know more about Mind-maps then follow this.
To be honest you’re just delaying the inevitable. You know what you have to do and how to do it. You just need to make the first mark. Go ahead, go on. There is always an undo, delete or erase mechanism somewhere.
These are ten ideas that run through my mind when the blank page is mocking me, how about you?