The Dreaded Blank Page

We’ve all been there, hesitating. The blank page, the open road, the white canvas waiting for you.

Some people just seem to rush in. They have no worries, no fear about just getting started. They do it. They find things to write about. They capture that perfect photo. They make the gorgeous painting you want in your bedroom. In those moments, it’s hard not to wonder:

Why is this so hard? What makes them different from me?

How they respond to fear.

Starting things is scary for most people. It means setting off on a journey, and you don’t know how it’s going to go. I’m the girl who still likes to sneak a peek at the end of novels to make sure it ends alright! Let me tell you, beginnings are the scariest part for me. Worst case scenarios fill my head: I could write a terrible page. I could crash my car. I will waste my film with god awful photos.

But those aren’t the only possibilities. When you show up, amazing things can happen. You could meet the character who starts a whole novel. On that road trip, you could discover the town you want to spend the rest of your life in. Or maybe you’ll create a self-portrait that shows a side of you even you’ve never seen.

Living creatively, whether you’re a professional painter or after work writer, means taking risks. The risks change over time. Two years ago I was terrified of getting rejected from publications. Now, I’ve been published in almost a dozen publications. I still get rejections, but it’s ok. I know now that I can handle it.

My first poem published in a physical book
My first poem published in a physical book.

I’m not saying fear goes away. Writing this blog post, starting this journey of writing about the creative life, was nerve-wracking. I thought about it for days. Talked over the idea with close friends. Wrote about in my journal. There were doubts, but the more I thought about it, the more awesome it sounded.

So here I am, showing up, not sure where this will take me. Whether you’re five years old on a bike or thirty-five and calling yourself a musician for the first time, fear is present. You don’t have to beat it. You just don’t have to listen to it. You show up anyways. Because, no matter what happens, you deserve to follow your inspiration. You deserve a life beyond fear.

Not sure how to acknowledge and move past fear?

Here are three strategies I love:

1. Spend some time with it

Go to a quiet space where you can be alone. Sit down with your favorite drink (I go for some mint tea, but hey! Open up a bottle of wine and pour yourself some.) Settle in and set a timer for 5-15 minutes.

Close your eyes and listen to your fear. What does it say? What’s it afraid of? Don’t reason with it, definitely don’t push it away. Just sit with it. Acknowledge it. Sometimes (in my head) I’ll think to it, “Yeah, I get that. I see why you’re scared.”

What you may realize: The fear may dissipate on its own accord. Or, you can see that what you’re afraid of, isn’t as big as you thought it was. The worse case scenario might not be that likely.

When you acknowledge what you feel, then you can deal with it in smarter and more powerful ways than running or just pushing it down.

2. Talk it out with someone you trust

Sometimes, you just need someone to tell you that you’re not crazy. A close friend or family member can be great. Tell them what you’re hoping to do. Tell them why you’re afraid. Let them be the sounding board for your project or idea.

Often, I find that saying a fear out loud removes a lot of power from the fear. It’s no longer the elephant in my brain. Sometimes it even becomes cute trinket sized.

Be sure it’s someone that is a good listener and understands where you’re coming from. You’re looking for someone to hold you in your worry and doubt, not another worrywart.

3. Remember a time you were scared

We’ve all faced fear before. Maybe it was the first time you rode an upside down roller coaster, terrified you were gonna vomit. Or, maybe it was the time you asked that cute guy out on a date. Think of a time you were scared. What happened afterwards?

Maybe now you love roller coasters and go on them with your kids. Did that guy reject you? It happened to me too, and it sucks. But hey, here we are. Doing just fine (or dating even hotter people now).  You were scared then too. But here you are, and it’s ok.

You’ve done it before. And I promise you, you can face your fear again. It’s gonna be fine.

However you choose to face your fear, embrace the Nike quip: Just do it. And soon, you won’t just be dreaming of creating: you’ll be doing just that.

Tell me, what do you want to start today? 

2 Comments

  1. what. Thoughtful approach. Trying something new….moving to a new locale..going to a foreign country…for a visit with only thoughts of how to spend the visit…reaching out to make a new friend…momentarily scary…fear of failure..life is full of challenges. Once you try the leap, it seems like the fear was a bit over the top.

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