White Fright - The Blank Page Syndrome

Have you ever had the feeling that you want to begin a new project but you struggle with where to start? You have a reservoir of pent up creative energy waiting to be unleashed...but you worry about making a 'wrong' first step. You stare at your blank notebook, blank Word page, blank canvas and drill holes in it with your eyes, looking for 'inspiration'.

It doesn't take long before that energy is redirected to a distraction - internet, creating to do lists, mindless tasks, cleaning up your email inbox - in the misguided hope that the distraction will kick something creative and productive loose. This step is called procrastination and it is the kryptonite of getting things done!

There is another way.

What works for me is a process based on what Tony Buzan developed called mind mapping. Essentially what you do is start with a blank space - it could be a piece of paper, a flip chart, a white board - and write you objective in the center. Let's use 'write a book' as an example.

In the area around the center, write down the various components of your project. From each of these headings, write down the sub headings that represent key facets of the heading that need to be created.

It is not critical to do this in one sitting - or standing - but to allow your brain the freedom to have inspiration and ideas 'arrive'. Keeping your map handy to record the ideas will help you avoid forgetting the ideas that arise but get lost by 'I forgot to remember to write this down'. If it's not practical to keep your map handy, a small notebook to record random ideas for transferring to the map later works just as well.

Two positive things happen in this process: you allow your brain to work the way it needs to during the creative process and the act of committing you ideas to a blank page often is exactly the trigger you need to stop procrastinating.

If you are comfortable working digitally, there are some very good free mind map programs available for downloading. The low tech version - paper and pencil - work equally well. Regardless of how you do it, the key is to do it!

If this idea appeals to you but you are not sure how to get it going, your coach may be the right next step to your completed project!