Does the Blank Page Scare You?


Most of the time, my inspiration can go on miles without refueling. But there are just days when I'm too caught up with work. I become too stressed that the gas just runs out while I'm in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, I have no will to go on. (It's not 'life' that I'm referring to, but lettering. It would be too dramatic otherwise.) 

The blank page just stares at me, and I don't know what to do. I end up binge watching Youtube. Minutes become hours. It's a quicksand, slowly sucking me in.

I have been lettering and writing letters daily for some time now. But as you see, the blank page still haunts me.

I am afraid of making mistakes. The paper is too white. There's too much space. How do I fill it? What if my lettering sucks, or does not meet the standard?Because of this, I have a lot of unused notebooks, sketch pads and papers lying in the house. I want them to only contain the best of the best. My planners are the same. I'm afraid to make them dirty.

At the same time, I am afraid of not writing anything. I have a daily lettering target. No matter what it takes, there has to be a daily output. So the thought that I will miss out on producing a good output daily is a scary thought. The piece of paper screams at me saying, "I need to be useful."

It's a vicious cycle. When I'm caught up in this mood, I find myself constantly shuffling between writing and not writing that I end up not doing anything. It's a pain. If you were looking at me at that point in time, you'll say, 'You're crazy! Why can't you make up your mind?" And right you are.

These thoughts are my demons. It comes and goes. The blank page is like a hump that I need to overcome. But just like Wednesday (hump day, get it?), it will pass, and eventually, I'll see the rainbow that is the weekend.

How do I overcome the beast known as the blank page?

I have come up with 5 core tenets:

  1. A blank page is not a monster. It is just a blank page.
  2. A page is replaceable. It is not forever. There's never a forever.
  3. A page is only useful if it is used. So use it.
  4. A page prefers to be loved and lost, than not loved at all.
  5. A page believes in the saying: "The page is calling and I must go." So go forth and write on it.

By remembering these, I overcome the fear faster.

When you find yourself in a similar situation, don't be afraid.

Just write anything. You can write letters, lines, dots, words, scribbles, random shapes. Make it heavy or light. The page is there for you to use. If you're afraid to waste an expensive paper or notebook, get a cheap one first. You can doodle until you're satisfied before you transfer to the better paper.

Build the consistency. Even if you're afraid, make the first move. The first step is also the hardest. When you've let go and jumped in, you'll realize that there's nothing to be afraid of. You'll likely make some mistakes and that's fine. You can always get another piece of (cheap) paper to begin again. After you graduated from cheap paper, you can get the next cheaper paper. Do this until it becomes cheap to you. Eventually, you'll learn to just draw and not be afraid. Wasting paper is inevitable. But if you really are afraid of wasting paper, you can draw digitally using a tablet or an iPad. You can erase all you want or you can start fresh each time.

Wasting paper is inevitable. But if you really are afraid of wasting paper, you can draw digitally using a tablet or an iPad. You can erase all you want or you can start fresh each time.

I am still at level 3 (out of 10) in the scale of 1 to expensive. When I look back and see where I started, I see that I've come a long way.

I know you can do it too. Conquer the beast every day.