Why I love the blank page

Image: Austin Smart

The blank page used to terrify me.

I remember sitting at home, maybe 15 years old, wanting to be outside doing something not as lame as this. Anything.

It’s horrible that we’re turned off to writing so early in life. It’s a shame that an empty sheet of paper or blinking cursor sends us into paralysis from such a young age (unless you’re one of those really annoying people who’ve always loved/been good at writing — yes, I’m bitter).

Why does this happen? Here’s what I think…

Writing sucks when we’re forced to do it. And it sucks even worse when we’re forced to write about lame sh*t that we have no interest in.

If you’re going to be a writer, or a better writer, you gotta fall back in love with the blank page. I did it. And I know you can do it.

Here’s the approach I take to the blank page¹ today...

The blank page is my Tabula Rasa my empty space where I step away from all the outside voices that tell me how to live my life.

It’s an invitation to create something new. Something that wasn’t there before. Anything. Not because I have to. But because I CAN.

No, I don’t have the answers when the blank page and I first meet. But that’s exactly why I do it. Because as I go, the answers appear. And more questions… And then more answers… Answers I wouldn’t have even imagined before they spewed out of me onto the page.

The blank page gives me permission — forces me, actually — to listen to myself. And if I sit quietly and patiently enough, I start to hear a part of me that I wish was around more often. Starting with a warmness in my chest, it creeps up. And I know it’s present.

This is my higher self. My muse. My daemon. Whatever you want to call it. This presence doesn’t get scared away by my persistence. It doesn’t play hard to get. But it doesn’t come out of the shadows to play until I consciously evoke it. It must be conjured. It dares not to appear uninvited.

But when I sit down at that blank page — when I meet it half way and show that I’ve created space for it — it plops its ass down right next to me and talks. The more I call it forth, the more comfortable it gets. And I love it.

The blank page is our shared space. The space for just us.

No one showed me this when I was younger. What might I have discovered about myself and the world I inhabit? What might I have created?

How can I be scared of a sacred space such as this?

How could I ever?

¹The kind of writing I’m particularly talking about here is either fiction writing, blogging, journaling, etc. Creative writing. If you happen to be writing instruction manuals for vacuum cleaners, you just gotta grin and bear it.

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