Blank Page: On Confronting Creative Blocks

Oct 14, 2019

When facing a blank page, what do you do?

A. Pick up your phone and do something else?

B. Write a few ideas, then delete them, call it writer’s block, then make yourself a snack?

C. Sit, stare and wait. Refusing to get up until something gets done.

Personally, I set a timer. 20 minutes, never less, never more. And for those 20 minutes, my only goal is to sit in the company of the blank page. Not to write 100 or 200 words, let alone a masterpiece. Just sitting and getting acquainted with the enemy.

But the brain isn’t a big fan of letting us idle for 20 minutes, it likes to be busy. So once we’ve made the decision that we won’t let ourselves be distracted, the only way left for the mind to get its rush is to fill up the blank page. That’s very often what ends up happening.

Whether what goes on the page ends up being good or absolute rubbish is irrelevant here.

We’re disciplining ourselves to do the work regardless of the self-talk that’s going on up in our heads. We’re conditioning ourselves to override the BS that ruminates in our domes, letting the mind know that we’re not willing to negotiate when it comes to our work.

Feeling sad? Good, let’s write.

Feeling sick? Good, let’s write.

Feeling hungry? Good, let’s write.

Note this is not a post about writing. It’s a post about getting the important things done. When faced with problems, the majority of us would much rather flee than do the work.

How do we flee? By picking up our phones. By turning on the TV. By eating. By engaging in meaningless chit chat. By drinking. By having sex. These are all forms of procrastination.

I’m asking you this morning to look for that discipline – the discipline to sit down, look your problems dead in the eye, and tell them you won’t move until they either knock you flat on your ass or you come to some sort of solution.

Repeat tomorrow.

It’s time to get uncomfortable, my friends, and spend some time with your demons.