Big Empty White Space

As you can see, I didn’t make my Thursday deadline, but I’m still here!  Life and blank page syndrome got in the way.    

It happens to all of us at one time or another.  We go to our studio to draw or paint, or we sit down at our desk to write a story or a business report.  We don’t feel inspired, but the work must be done.  We’re on deadline, or maybe we haven’t worked in a while and we feel guilty. 

So there we are staring at that big white space on paper or canvas.  It stares back at us.   We strain to come up with an idea.  Nothing!  And it needs to be a great idea.  Zilch!  OK, we’ll take a good idea.  Zero!   Well, an acceptable idea.  Zip!  Just give me an idea, any idea, even a lousy idea, we plead with our brains!!!  And there it sits the dreaded curse of all creatives, students, and business professionals.


 A lot has been written about how to overcome this – take a walk, wash the dishes, read something inspirational, re-locate yourself temporarily to a café, pretend you’re writing a letter to your grandmother (if you’re blocked writing) are but a few examples.  The idea being that if your brain is occupied doing something else, it will work better and get the ideas flowing.   These are good techniques; I’ve used them myself.  You probably have a few of your own. 

The one solution that is always at the end of the list – because it’s hard – but is the only one that is guaranteed to work for conquering the Empty Big White Space is to


 Make a mark on the canvas or paper, put words on the screen or paper.  And then another and another.  Keep going.  The first ideas are usually toss-aways, either I don’t like them, or they won’t work.  But they are still important and useful because they lead to more ideas.   We need to ditch the idea that everything we put on canvas or paper, including the very first thing, needs to be brilliant.  It’s like using a new pen.  The first few strokes usually don’t come out well.  But you have to go through that to get the ink flowing. 

I keep reminding myself it’s only paper or canvas.  Things can be erased, deleted or painted over.  No one needs to know how many times we started.  But we’ll never know what will come until we begin.  

© Lynn Wyvill 2011

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