The Blank Page

It is a fundamental misunderstanding.

“The white sheet of paper — or today: the blank screen — is a fundamental misunderstanding.” — Armen Nassehi

Creating something out of nothing. Such a difficult thing to do. All of that emptiness waiting to be filled.

Thoughts are swirling, refusing to settle. The mind is wandering, refusing to focus.

We've all been there, facing the blank screen with an uncooperative mind. We're often told to gut it out. Just write something down and the thoughts will begin to flow.

But what if the blank screen is a fundamental misunderstanding in this order of operations we call writing? What if we've got it all backwards?

The human mind is not at its best when challenged for immediate answers. It prefers to ponder questions. It delights in puzzles. It operates asynchronously.

Ask a question or propose a problem, and the mind wanders off on a subconscious background thread. When left to its own devices, the mind then pops out an answer once fully cooked — typically at the most inopportune moment and in the most unlikely of times and places.

Force it to answer on command, and you either get nothing or something hastily prepared, most likely from what you've recently consumed.

Consider taking a different approach. Turn your current system of writing on its head.

Choose ideas you've already...

  • Read about

  • Written notes about in your own words

  • Processed through your problem-solving mind

  • Combined with other ideas

Instead of selecting a new idea or topic, simply pick related notes you've already written. Piece them together. It's much easier to fill in the spaces between something that is already there.

Never face a blank screen again.