The “blank page syndrome” is one of the greatest challenges often faced by professionals, engaged creatively.
We have often heard stories of writers who after putting a blank page into their typewriters keep wondering about what they are going to write. And sometimes they freeze. At times they get frustrated by staring into the blank page for long.
However, this syndrome is not only faced by writers. Whether it is a blank Word document, a blank canvas, or a blank page of a sketch book or a machine that an engineer looks at, the effect is the same. No new ideas flow. It is scary.
As we understand, creativity is the creation of something out of nothing. It is always about creating new knowledge or new interpretation or new explanation of life and the world around us. However, from that “blank page” might suddenly leap into reality a new piece of knowledge, a new painting, a new story, a new poem, a new song, a new explanation that would capture a viewer’s imagination propelling them into another time and space – providing them valuable new insights and new ways of looking at the world and at their lives.
The questions are: How do we overcome the syndrome? How do we start? How do we overcome feelings of possible inadequacy or fear of failure? What is the secret?
The secret, as I see it, is – unless you are deeply inspired don’t create. Once inspired, fear of failure is automatically rejected since it desperately seeks an expression. Love that accompanies inspiration helps new ideas to flow in synchronized pattern. If that is so then what steals or dries up our inspiration?
First, it is our tendency to judge what we come across. More we judge more cynical and depressed we become. I believe that depression and cynical attitude are anti-creative. So, if we suspend our judgement for a while, our chance to be inspired increases exponentially.
Second, our inspiration stops when we expect any specific outcome from our effort of creating something new. Even the mere expectation of expecting people to like what we do can still the creative flow of ideas.
Third, is our fear of non-conformance to the traditional. Thoughts like, “it has always been done this way,” or “people don’t like this way of dressing,” or “it is improper to air my understanding of such and such issues in public,” can freeze us before a “blank page.”
Fourth, is our inability to deeply experience what we come across. More often we do get inspired by what we deeply see and feel. We get inspired when new perspectives, new insights, new knowledge effortlessly pop out from what we deeply experience. Once that happens the inspiration has a life of its own. It flow from the mind to the “blank page.”
In short, getting and staying inspired is the vital ingredient to stay fresh and creative in whatever we do as professionals. It gives us the confidence to succeed. More than that, it always provides the sense of excitement that accompanies being creative. Without fail, that excitement spurs us on in our creative journey.
Possibly a simple way to state this — just play with what interests you. In playing we can simply go anywhere we like and do anything we want to and get whatever we want to get in our imagination.
That is the secret of overcoming the “blank page syndrome.”
There is no need to stare at a “blank page.” When inspiration strikes look for a blank page.