Writing & Creativity: The Power of the Blank Page

The blank page.

On some days it’s the most inspiring thing I see.  The possibilities are endless.  I can decide to be creative, authoritative, passive, inspirational, or disruptive.  I can choose any topic in the world and bring it to life.  On other days, the blank page is intimidating.  Ideas seem slow to come, or when they do, they are jumbled fragments of things not fully formed.  Then there are the days when the blank page is a comfort.  In each new journal I start, I always leave the first page blank, as a way to remind myself that we don’t always have to be saying something in order to be complete.  Knowing that is a comfort.

I am thinking about the blank page for several reasons today.  From a work perspective, I have been filling pages and pages worth of information.  It’s the writing of endless possibilities that drives me.  From a personal perspective, it’s quite the opposite.  All my thoughts seem fragmented and needing completion, so I’m channeling all the creativity I can muster to get to a result.  How do I do this?

One of my favorite books is a little treasure I found while rummaging through an off-the-beaten-path bookstore in London. Hegarty On Creativity, a book of musings by award-winning ad man John Hegarty, drew me in  the moment I saw it because he discusses the idea of the importance of the blank page.

Hegarty said, “the blank page is one of the greatest challenges faced by the creative person.”  I always look at a blank page as limitless opportunity. To me, a blank canvas is like an unspoken promise.

I can do anything.
I can write anything.
I can create everything.

So, how is it that the greatest opportunity can also be one of the greatest challenges?  When opportunity is put before you, or if you’re creating your own opportunity, there is also great risk.  There is the expected risk of failure, but there is more than that.  There is the risk of success~ of succeeding too fast.  There is also the risk of alienating those who are close to you, and that’s ok.

The key is embracing the risk so that you can get to the reward.  How can you do that with the blank page?  Here are 3 key ways:
  1. Consider the blank page your permission slip- Much like when we were kids and needed a permission slip to do things, many adults fall into the pattern of not moving forward with something as if they don’t have permission.  Consider a blank page as your personal invitation to do something new, to disrupt the status quo.
  2. Make the blank page an outlet to give yourself freedom to create-  Sometimes we live or work in a culture where we feel oppressed.  Consider the blank page your ticket to freedom.  You can rework any process, program or old solution.  You can create a completely new business.  You can inspire a person, a generation or an industry.
  3. Use the blank page as a place where you list all your barriers, be it things or people, and strategically work to eliminate all barriers to your goal-  We all have barriers.   What I’ve learned is that those barriers only have power as long as we let them.  Write down all the things in your life that are limiting your capabilities to be the very best you and get rid of them.  It will not be easy, but it will be worthwhile.
 If you’re in search of inspiration, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Hegarty on Creativity.  His view of the world is one full of honesty, partnership and eliminating barriers.  Well worth the time to read.  Enjoy!

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