I’m not exactly afraid of the blank page…

I have heard a lot of writers and artists talk about the terror or intimidation they feel when facing the blank page.

I get what they mean but my challenges with getting started don’t really manifest that way.

A blank page is full of possibilities, I could put anything on there!

I get stuck in pre-draft mode though, imagining that I need to do a lot more thinking than I actually do before beginning a project.

I’ve learned that there is no point in my thinking process when I’ll say ‘Time to get this down on paper!’ Instead, I have to pick a time and get started, even if I fill my paper with doodles or my screen with rambly text.

Sooner or later (usually sooner) something will click and I’ll have a place to start.

Then I start (literally or metaphorically) moving that idea closer or further from the other ideas I have and the action of moving that idea around helps the others fall into place.

But getting myself to that point where I will commit something to paper or to screen can be a challenge so I have started ‘ruining’ my page* to help me get started.

On the screen, I’ll type (or dictate) the question I’m trying to address or I’ll copy a quote or I’ll type what I *don’t* want to say about this topic an why I don’t want to say it.

On the page, I’ll make some weird headings or if it is a drawing, I’ll add a line that has nothing to do with what I’m trying to create. (The line below is in ink because I am just playing, I might do it in pencil for a drawing for a public purpose.)

a top-down view of a notebook, a silver-coloured teapot, a cup of tea, and a spoon on a wooden table.?
Image description: a top-down photo of a notebook, a silver-coloured teapot, a cup of tea, and a spoon on a wooden table. The cup is decorated with tentacles on the outside, and small drawings of people clinging to the edge on the inside. The notebook has a thin, curvy black line drawn from side to side on the open page. The line looks like a very sloppy W.

Once I have ‘ruined’ my page, I find it a lot easier to break out of thinking mode and into doing mode.

And my friends and coaching clients who are intimidated by the blank page find the same thing.

Something about getting those first marks out of the way helps me (and them) get to the next steps.

I highly recommend ruining your work.

*I teach a workshop called ‘start by ruining it’ – it’s big fun!