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”.


The harder habit to break is the looking around, watching what everyone else is doing and wondering why it comes so easily for them? This only causes anxiety and self-doubt. This is a part of my process that I do not embrace. I have to constantly remind myself to put my head back down, take my time, and focus on the problem at hand for that is where the solution lies.
We’ve all heard about the algorithms of social media and how you must post once a day, or at least three times a week. Your newsletter must be once a week or at least twice per month.
Additionally, there is all the talk about Artificial Intelligence and turning to apps and websites to produce the content FOR you that must be present on the algorithm’s schedule. We’ve seen the AI portraits and photography.
And so I have to stop and ask…
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why are we creating this digital landfill of artificially generated, meaningless nonsense? Who’s in charge?
Believe me I know how excruciating it is to sit with thoughts that yield nothing. But it is through the sitting, the steeping, the waiting and the focus that ideas are born and human creativity is expressed. We’re not robots.
So for me, when I write something to you, it will come from my heart, my brain, my soul and my skill (or lack there of). The same goes for my content. I endeavor to get it onto a schedule but it will never be like clockwork (or algorithm-friendly). If I have nothing to say, I will say nothing.
We are the creators of our own lives. WE are in charge. So let’s be human together, taking our time, sharing ourselves with each other and embracing our processes, flaws and all.
 Shall we?
Thanks so much for being here!