How to power through blank-page anxiety and get your ideas out in the world
In my past life working with the media and with my current business, I know there is a good amount of creativity that anyone, employee or business owner, needs to be productive in their work.
But one thing that still gets me stuck or paralyzed is a blank page. Yes, I have blank page anxiety — like, majorly. I sit down and take a look at a brand new Word or Google Doc and feel like I’m drowning in a sea of white before I even get started.
I knew I had this issue and needed some help. I tried a whole slew of things and, to my amazement, actually found some things that worked for me. So if you are in a similar position, here’s how to get unstuck and Do The Thing you’re called to do.
1. Try a different medium
I have a million different ideas in my head at any time, and sometimes I just can’t properly put them together in words. I want to broadcast some of these ideas to a wider audience, but with the aforementioned blank page anxiety, I’ve held myself back.
But what I learned is that I don’t have as much anxiety around Facebook Live as I do with writing — which is strange, considering how many people fear public speaking. I just don’t have that same hangup with a livestream as I do with a big fat blank page.
So to keep my videos concise, I purposefully make sure my livestreams are under 10 minutes, which forces me to pick one idea at a time to talk about (because otherwise, I would be rambling for hours).
Then, I have an assistant write up what I talked about into a blog draft, and from there I can go in and edit the post. I know myself well enough to know I’m much faster at editing than writing.
I know other coaches who dictate their ideas into their phone and have an assistant take it from there, or they use the text-to-speech feature on their phones. They can also run the audio through a transcribing site, like rev.com or otter.ai.
2. Take it one idea at a time
Before I go on these livestreams, I normally break down what I want to talk about in some form of a rough outline. Authors and journalists would know this trick, because they’ve been doing it for decades: Use index cards to organize your thoughts.
I digitize this process a bit by using either Trello, Powerpoint or Google Slides. It forces you to organize your thoughts in a small space, and encourages you to look at one idea at a time. From there you can drag and reorder your ideas into a sequence that makes sense.
Some people use Post-its on a wall, others use the classic outline format in a Word doc. Whatever helps you break down each idea individually, go for it.
3. Done is better than perfect
Get out of your own way and share your stories, damn it. Many of us wait around for everything to be perfectly edited and constructed before we hit the publish button. But if you are publishing on the internet, do realize that most content you can publish also can be deleted or edited later.
Let that be your fallback to give you permission to just Do The Thing and broadcast your ideas.
Your ideas are waiting to be shared. No one else can share them for you.
Do The Thing!