Picking a fight with the blank page


July 24, 2012 by Andy Whisenant

I had big writing plans for today. I was sure that you would be thoroughly impressed with my mastery of language and the way I can craft stellar prose. I was sure that I would have something of value to say today.

But that just didn’t happen. Big surprise, I know. I could give you a lot of reasons why that didn’t happen but one of the reasons I had trouble crafting a masterpiece was fear.

Fear of the blank page, to be specific.

Don’t get me wrong. Writing is my thing. When I’m able to do it, I feel alive. It helps me figure out who I am and who I want to be. I may not be able to paint a beautiful landscape or read a note of music, but I can write. It’s my art.

But, if we’re really honest here, and it seems like we’ve known each other long enough for me to tell it like it is, the blank page scares the crap out of me. My computer just sits there looking at me, laughing at my attempts to compose anything. It says, “You again? You don’t have the chops to be a writer. Your sentences are too long, your headlines too weak, your thoughts too scattered. You should just give up any thoughts of ever being a pro at this thing.” [Insert maniacal laugh here.] It tempts me to just give up and walk away. The Resistance is heavy and persistent.

But if writing is my art and if it matters to me, which it is and it absolutely does, it’s worth talking back to that bully of a blank page and saying that, yeah, maybe I’m not the writer I could be, but I’m definitely not the writer I once was. My writing could be so much better, so much sharper, and at such a higher level, but it’s light years away from where I started.

If this art matters to me, it’s worth fighting for. It’s worth wrestling with very word, every sentence, every paragraph. The frustration of stringing words together is worth it when I get to tell of the scandalous nature of grace, the upsidedown-ness of the Kingdom, and the liberating force of love in action.

You’ve got your art too. I know you do. Our God is massively creative, and if we are made in His likeness, we have His creativity in us too. What’s your thing that, when you’re doing it, you feel completely alive? You know what it is…you know you’re in your sweet spot when you get the chance to engage this art of yours.

And you know the arguments you have with yourself. You’re not good enough. You’re not old/young enough. You’re not qualified. Your past is too messed up. You don’t have any formal training. You’re [fill in the blank]. That’s your blank page, your nemesis, your school playground bully.

But you have to make a choice…do you let him win, leaving you, again, with an empty page, a blank canvas, a thought of what could have been? Or do you fight for your art and recognize, maybe for the first time, the possibilities that exist if you engage your art? Your art can change the world if you’ll let it…if you’re willing to wrestle with nothing to create something.

So while this blog post didn’t turn out like I had originally thought, I still hit publish today. It’s probably scattered in nature, and I’m sure that I’ll find fault with what I’ve written tomorrow. But for today, I won the battle with the blank page. Now to just prepare for tomorrow’s war, because that bully that I defeated today will most certainly be back tomorrow.

It’s not perfect, but it’s published. What do you need to publish/ship/start/complete/decide today? What art do you need to fight for today?

One thought on “Picking a fight with the blank page

  1. Kathy Fields says:

    Love this, Andy! You have inspired me to think about things that truly make me “feel alive” when I’m doing them and to prioritize accordingly! You have a way of penning things that explains your point so well & is an encouragement to others so don’t ever give up your writing! Today I’m working on my AG lesson which I’m pretty passionate about! Will try to have something for you soon!

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