Sitting with the Blank Canvas
A substitute teacher handed each person in the class a blank sheet of notebook paper and told us to write a one-page essay about anything we wanted.
ANYTHING? Do you know how infinite the world of ANYTHING is?
I realized in that moment that I am not a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” creator. I need a problem to solve. A prompt of some kind, and ANYTHING does not fit the bill!
So I stared at that blank piece of paper completely overwhelmed. I peeked around at my fellow classmates writing away with seemingly no problem. Head back down, I stared some more. I became anxious and doubtful of my ability. I’m taking too long. I stared some more.
As I stared at a page full of noting, I began to think about all the things I could do with a blank piece of paper. Things OTHER THAN choosing a writing topic from the land of ANYWHERE.
I could make a paper airplane and send it soaring.
I could write a letter to my Grandmother and make her day.
I could tear it into strips, make spitballs and wreak havoc among the writers in the room.
I had all I needed to create something beautiful through the ancient art of Origami.
I could draw a portrait of the substitute teacher.
I could design a treasure map and actually bury something where “X” marks the spot.
Before I knew it I was writing madly – trying to get ALL my ideas onto one blank sheet of paper.
I tell you this story because sometimes writing a newsletter or creating social media content reminds me of sitting at that desk with a blank brain over a blank sheet of paper. The possibilities are endless, rendering me idea-less and swimming in paralysis – looking around at everyone else creating away with seemingly no trouble at all.
I’ve learned that ideas don’t always come when called and the waiting can be painful and summon uncertainty. It is also necessary. It’s part of my process. I’ve learned to embrace it. Sometimes it takes a while. It doesn’t mean the well is dry and I have no ideas left. I tell myself, “don’t panic”.