October 11, 2022

How to Chance Upon Creativity on a Blank Page

Don’t start with a blank page.

That’s one of the powerful writing lessons I’ve learned from Ship 30. A clean screen with the cursor blinking at you is the perfect playground for imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and indecision. It’s daunting to pick up the pen and write — to let your thoughts flow and see where it takes you. And it takes so much time to sit down and wait for the muse to whisper your next big idea.

This is where formulas and frameworks come in handy.

By laying the bones of the story first, writing isn’t as intimidating. With a guide, we’re no longer magicians trying to summon a dove out of an empty hat, no longer struggling to produce something out of nothing.

Ev Chapman’s Pink Sheet template has helped me crank out a couple of company blog posts with ease. Kaleigh Moore suggests building a dump doc where you, as the name suggests, do a brain dump of all the materials needed to assemble an article (think SEO keywords, research findings, relevant stats, and anecdotes). And Typeshare(affiliate link) has useful templates that serve as jumping-off points.

These tools help me reduce the resistance when writing and be more prolific.

But they have become so crucial in my creative process that I heavily depend on them. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because systems need to be reliable. Yet I can’t shake this antsy feeling: I missed chasing my curiosity.

I missed starting with no idea where my writing takes me, getting lost in the moment, and being pleasantly surprised at the final piece. I missed the mess in the middle — the process of untangling our thoughts, feelings, and ideas to turn them into a coherent essay.

Having formulas and frameworks to lean onto is smart. But make space for wonder too.

Sometimes, a blank page is all we need.

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