Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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How to Eliminate the Blank Page – The Sweet Setup


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Have you ever sat down to do some writing and you’re just staring at the blank page? You’re stuck trying to come up with the idea, or you’re ready to do the work and you’re just lost. It’s the worst.

When you should be focusing on doing the creative work and doing the writing that you want to do, you’re spending all your time thinking about what to write about in the first place.

Dual Focus

When you sit down at the keyboard to do the writing, the last thing you want is to have what we call dual focus. Dual focus is trying to focus on doing the writing but first having to focus on what to write about. You’ve got two jobs in front of you. You should have only one job and sole focus: a writing goal.

When you’ve got a sole focus, it alleviates the fear of the blank page. It removes all that wasted time and redeems your creative energy so that you can sit down and just begin writing. We have an entire course on how to mind map and develop your ideas so you even have more context for what to write about, but what I want to share with you right now is one thing that has always helped me know exactly what to write about.

The Note

This is one of my tricks to writing with focus, and it’s something I call The Note. Now, before I explain the note, let me explain the problem that I was trying to solve.

I used to come down to my office in the morning and sit down to do my writing, and instead of actually writing, I would just waste my entire morning by surfing the web. I would check stats about my websites, check social media and email, and I wouldn’t actually do any writing. It was a problem I had to solve.

The other problem I mentioned earlier is I would sit down to write but there would be this blank page staring back at me. I would spend most of my morning thinking about what I wanted to write, what I was in the mood for, or what was the muse saying to me. I would just procrastinate and I wouldn’t actually get any writing done.

So I came up with a different approach that helps me get more focused on my writing every single day, and this has served me for years. It’s something I still do. The details of it have changed a bit since I first began doing this, but basically, The Note is just a three-by-five note card. At the end of my workday, I would pull out a notecard from my drawer and I would jot down with a big Sharpie what my writing topic for tomorrow would be. What’s the one thing that I’m going to start writing about when I come into work in the morning?

The Note

I’d take that card and put it right on my keyboard. So that way, the next morning when I came into my office, I didn’t have to think about what to write about. It was right there on the note waiting for me and telling me what to focus on. All I had to do was simply start writing.

Plan Ahead and Do The Work

These days, I actually do something very similar. Instead of a three-by-five note card, I write it down in my journal. Another thing I do is open up my iPad and I get Ulysses ready to go with a blank page with the topic typed out and pulled up. I set my iPad on the table and then in the morning, when I wake up, I make my coffee, sit down, open up my iPad and boom, there’s the topic ready to go. I don’t have to think about it — I just sit down and begin to do the work.

In a simplified manner, The Note is merely a manifestation of two things. One, planning ahead for the work and, two, showing up to do the work. This approach to planning ahead is something that is valuable no matter what the work is that you’re doing. It’s helpful for writing, but it’s helpful for so much more. This is a productive way to think about managing your time and scheduling your day. It goes far beyond just doing the writing. If you can plan ahead and then show up and follow through, you can apply this to so many areas of your life. You’ll be amazed at the results. That’s my one tip for how to write with focus and eliminate the fear of the blank page.

FREE Webinar 🎉 The Focused Writer: Improve Your Workflow

If you ever find that your “Deep Work Time” is filled with distractions, procrastination, or the blank page… then join Shawn Blanc for this free class. You’ll get ideas and tips for improving your creative workflows so you can be more focused and less anxious about your writing and creative work..

+ Two big problems that many creators face (and how to get past them them starting today).

+ The 4 steps of an organized writing workflow that will remove stress and procrastination from your creative process.

​​​​​​​+ How to organize: ideas for how to simplify and manage your notes.

Free bonus for all registrants: The Show-Up-Every-Day Worksheet (a quick-start guide that will help you be more focused and intentional with your focused work time)

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