There’s always something terrifying for me about a blank page, especially one with a black cursor just sitting there, blinking impatiently at me as I struggle to come up with the right words. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m starting a 400-page novel or a 200-word blog post – the feeling is the same.
Why should it be scary? A blank page is really a world full of opportunity and endless possibilities. But maybe that’s where the problem lies – because along with the chance to create something breathtaking, awe-inspiring, or just entertaining, comes the risk of absolute, utter failure. Maybe whatever I write will be worse than the remnants the trash truck leaves in the bottom of my garbage can. Maybe it will be so bad I’ll realize that I should never have tried writing anything at all. Maybe, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to create on paper the glorious ideas existing in my mind.
As I think about it, I realize this idea of the blank page isn’t too different from starting any new venture in life. Whatever we choose to do carries a risk of failure – and the greater the opportunity, the bigger the potential we’ll crash and burn.
But here’s the thing: we all fail sometimes. (Okay, maybe a lot of the time). How many people can make a recipe for the first time and always have it turn out right? Not even executive chefs always make perfect food. So if I just plan on my first draft being
rather really lousy – if I give myself permission to fail – then I don’t have to be afraid. Because nothing we write, and nothing we really go after, is ever wasted.
Words can be deleted and rewritten. Efforts can be revised and reassessed and reevaluated. The page can be set aside or crumpled up or used to start a fire in the fire pit out back. There’s a whole stack of more blank ones waiting their turn. And no matter how that first draft ends up, it still brings me one step closer to success.
So I’m going to embrace the blank page, accept it for both its possibilities and its risks, give myself the freedom to fail, and keep hoping that one day I’ll accomplish something bigger than I thought possible.
Thanks for starting the journey with me.