The blank page

How pressure can help you thrive

Image: Luis Llerena

Everyone talks about the challenge of the blank page. That flashing curser, impatiently awaiting our words. Some people find this intimidating. I can understand why, but I find it inspiring. There’s a kind adrenalin rush I get, sitting down for my twenty minutes of writing, knowing I want to produce something but having no idea what.

I love the challenge of entering into my writing room, sitting down with a blank slate in front of me, and having to come up with something there and then.

Admittedly, what I come up with isn’t always a work of genius, but when I put myself in the position of having to write, something nearly always comes to the surface.

The truth is too that, if I didn’t put myself in this position, the ideas would more than likely never emerge. Though pressure can be crippling, used in a healthy way it can be a stimulant – a real aid to triggering our brains to create.

Some years back I took part in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel over the period of the thirty days of November. Allowing for a day off once a week, that left me with the challenge of writing two thousands words a day.

I get it – it sounds horrendous. But I loved it! It forced me to think outside of the box. Not only with the creation of my story, but in how I made time for that amount of writing. It’s amazing the fresh perspective you can get on your life when something has to change.

The outcome of this wasn’t the world’s greatest novel. Nope, no one is ever going to see it! But for me it was all about the creative process. It was about putting myself into a tough situation with a healthy amount of pressure and seeing how I responded.

It’s easy to shy away from things like this. Or what I’m doing now with this daily blogging. But if we never put ourselves into testing challenges, how will we keep growing? How will we appreciate the extent of our own potential?

We need pressure. And again, there are good types of pressure and bad types. It’s not about guilt — it’s about motivation. And the type of pressure that works for me, might not be right for you. The key is to find the kind of pressure that brings out the best of you and keep putting yourself under that kind of pressure.

That’s how we keep developing as people.

That’s how we live life fully alive.

A divided nation

Resisting the stats page