I always have the urge to write. It’s almost the same as breathing for me. I don’t always have the follow through to do it, however, even when I feel the desire burning.
Aren’t we all like this in many ways?
We all have these passions that drive us at a deep level, and yet we so often don’t follow through on the call. We feel the desire toward something new and different – maybe it’s still unspecified and unintelligible but it still burns deep inside with an urgency that reminds us that there is indeed something tangible behind the longing.
Yet we sit and stare at the blank page.
Not all of us are writers, of course. Life-breath comes in all forms of unique and varied activities, most often of a creative nature. And by creative, I mean activities that are soul-fulfilling and result in something new (physically or energetically) where nothing previously existed.
For example, a painting or a poem that just has to come out. Or perhaps a newly sculpted body from healthy and active choices. Possibly a newfound joy brought forth by helping to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Maybe even the simple act of choosing to be happy in the face of great challenges. The opportunities for creating something new are endless, and not relegated to conventional “art.”
But we tell ourselves, “I’m not creative.” Or, “I don’t have the stamina.” Or, “I’ll text her later.” Or, “I’m not worthy of being happy.” And we put ourselves off another day, another week, another year.
Truth is, I’ve never liked starting anything from scratch. I need a recipe, a guide, an established starting point. I don’t like to reinvent the wheel.
However, our creative nature isn’t very forgiving of us when we don’t flex our “ambiguity” muscles; that is, our ability to work and be at least moderately successful in a place of ambiguity and uncertainty. Yes, we can chug along through life starting only with the help of someone else’s previously-forged cues. But our creative spark suffers in this mindset, one driven mostly by fear and a sense of unworthiness.
“I’m not good enough.” “What if I fail?” “What if someone doesn’t like what I produce?” These thoughts keep us avoiding that blank page.
However, this inability to start from a blank slate, to restart after a habit has been broken, to reach out to someone who might not understand our true intentions, or to step out in service for fear of failure or rejection doesn’t only hurt us. What we’re not doing now hurts those who would be helped by us. Uplifted by us. Inspired by us. Healed by us.
As I sat here this week, feeling the urge to write and also feeling the familiar panic upon staring at my blank page, I ran through a list of possible topics in my head, mentally discarding each one. I sidetracked myself with other legitimate work tasks. I decided writing could wait a day, or a week. I ate lunch.
And then, I remembered my book writing path. I truly had no plan for writing a book. I avoided it for nearly two years until I finally decided I’d just start each day with a blank page and write what comes to mind – no matter how unintelligible, ridiculous, silly, or embarrassing it might be. And so The Angel Inside was birthed.
And I remembered the many times I’ve started writing a poem and I penned the first words that came to me until I got into a flow. And later when I went to edit, I realized the first line or two didn’t make any sense, so I simply cut it out. And the rest was a nice poem. Or at least decent.
And that’s all we’re really being asked for anyway. Nice. Decent. Our best efforts consistently applied.
Today, I opened an empty document for the second or third time with no thoughts at the ready. And within a few deep breaths, I heard “blank page.” And I remembered that for me, the action of writing is the catalyst that opens the floodgate of more words.
In other words, taking even small action in a forward direction – simply doing SOMETHING – is often the catalyst for the more in-depth work that follows.
And so I started typing. One word led to the next and to the next. Eventually, through a hazy, forward and back approach, and with lots of editing, the words on the page started to take shape on their own, without much conscious thought to structure, form, or outline, a process not unlike the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
In my early adulthood, I never saw the value of a blank page. I was so fearful of not knowing where I was going that I rarely allowed myself to know or grow in any way that didn’t follow a prescriptive path or that seemed absolutely prudent.
But no more. I’m still fearful of course. I don’t know an honest person who isn’t. However, now that I’ve experienced the mysteries and miracles that a hazy, faith-filled path can bring, I can’t go back. I won’t go back.
And my wish for you is that you will take out that blank page that’s calling you, breathe into your heart, and create what needs to come from within.
Because that is the power of a blank page.