There are times when the blank page glows white and forbidding in front of me. It dares me to think I have something to say. It sits there awkwardly waiting for me to scribe something, anything, as my mind remains a reflection of the blank page. Empty and silent. The page waits while I wait for inspiration.
I have never been a “doodler.” I write words. I compose text. I find mind maps hellishly intimidating, as though they will visibly track my ineffectual thinking. I am a linear thinker and writer. Words must stretch across the page, one after another until they create what I want to communicate. Then I can edit and change and enhance for what becomes the finished product. Thus, it is that when creativity takes a vacation I stare at the blank white page with a rising sense of panic that perhaps the muse has permanently departed.
the beautiful blank page
Yet, the blank page is the unrelenting opportunity to begin. It heralds the new with the ceremony of pen to paper (text to screen), inviting ideas from the quiet mind. It takes practice and patience to come to the page every day to discover what lies dormant and waiting to be said. At the end of my daily journal entries I draw a small heart as a symbol of gratitude to conclude each day’s effort. I do this because I feel a need to honour what has been transcribed from the ethereal into concrete text. Quality is derived not from carefully selecting words but through the quantity of words that eventually uncover insight and those things worth keeping in mind for future use. I write a lot of drivel to get to “aha!”
What occurs to me as the best part of my daily ritual of writing is that this solitary, disciplined life is teaching me the value of showing up consistently, day after day after day, to put down the words. Even when the page taunts me. Even when what I write will remain forever for my eyes only. You see, it’s the power of doing that matters. It pushes me on to the days and moments when I know I have accomplished writing that I am proud to share. I will sweat out those shallow days if it means getting to deep end of my ability, sooner or later.
Writing too is a lot like running. There are miles and miles that hurt, uphill, until you can run with strength and grace. There can be a lot of rain on your running parade until the sun comes out and you run with a sense of freedom and joyful movement. But when that time comes you absolutely love running like it is the best thing in the world! You look back at what it took to get where you are and you know that you would do it all over again. You would run, one step at a time, down the long distance of many roads and climbs up many hills, through the good and bad days, to feel this good.
I encourage everyone to journal. It is the place for you to be you and not worry how you sound or even what you say. It is the blank page that gives permission to pour out your thoughts in a messy, free-form flow of whatever comes to mind. I sometimes write about the weather as though it is the most interesting part of my day. Sad, albeit true.
A journal can also be the place where you face the parts of yourself that you have been avoiding, those truthful aspects of you that linger in the background needing attention and resolution. When you write down your truth you may open wounds but you also give yourself permission to acknowledge and release what is holding you back. I sometimes cry all over my pages. Good thing I am alone, at home. It is not a pretty site but it is cathartic.
Quite often, when I tell someone that I am just finishing a memoir, they respond with how they would like to do the same. People yearn to tell their story in some format. It comes from that place in us that wants to believe that we matter – and we do, of course. I am inclined to offer everyone a beautiful blank page on which to compose their life’s tale. Let in be in words or pictures or doodles or whatever you like. But begin. And eventually you will find a way to not only tell your story but also to find yourself upon the page as nothing else can make possible.
You are in the words. So be willing to discover the words in you that are waiting to write your life into beautiful view.