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Take The Blank Page Challenge

If you have followed my advice to enhance your personal and business brand by writing you have run across this obstacle.

There it is all white and nice. A canvas to capture your thoughts and words. An adventure into what never existed before. A chance to express the person you are and intellect within.

So why can’t you get started?

I have experienced this and it can be crushing to the ego. I’m smart, I have good and important things to say, yet my fingers merely hover over the keyboard – stuck in my own thoughts.

The challenge is to put the very first word on the page. Even ‘The’ will work. You type and there it is, three little letters where there used to be white. It is your word, a good word, but it is naked by itself. ‘The’ what?

You set out to write about something, it could be a report, a blog, an essay, a commentary on current issue or event or maybe just a letter. The freeze is caused by over thinking the ‘what’ and ‘how’ you are trying express. There are exercises in hundreds of books about the craft of writing that help to break the block.

What I have found helpful are two things. First, start with the title or heading of the piece. It is the title that opens the writing area of your brain. The title can be anything from dramatic or forceful to light and funny. The title of this work is “Take the blank page challenge.” Guess where that came from? Right, I was staring at that crisp white empty page. Once that was out of me I knew what I was going to write. First, I was going to take a look at how I attack the start of a writing exercise. Second, do not edit whatever goes on the page until you are done. Don’t spell check, don’t correct your grammar, don’t even worry about punctuation. At this point it is the idea that matters, it is you conveying thoughts and ideas that make for an interesting presentation. I am the worst at grammar and punctuation and rely on those who are good at it to help me edit it into something that is credible and correct so don’t be bashful if you need help.

You will be surprised at how quickly the words flow once you have created the title. It is the bedrock of the process. Interestingly, however, the title may change when you are done. As I write this I am considering changing it to “The Blank Page Syndrome” or “Overcoming the Blank Page.” You see? Same written piece presented in a more interesting way. The title starts the process but does not need to hamstring your output.

Even accomplished writers have experienced the dreaded blank page. Journalists and reporters have it a bit easier because they are given the focus of their piece. They have a formula that moves them through a story in an orderly fashion. Essayists, pundits, novelists, and bloggers are not always so fortunate and they have their own mechanisms that they employ because they cannot afford to stare at a blank page for extended periods of time. Writing is important to your personal and professional brand, don’t let that blank page intimidate you. You are stronger than that. Trust me the more you write, the less frequently you will even notice the page is empty.

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Greg Demetriou

Greg Demetriou

The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder of GregsCornerOffice.com and the host of the Ask A CEO video and podcast show. He can be reached at [email protected]. To learn more about Greg, read Greg's full bio page.