Why are you so terrified of blank pages?

What if you do it wrong?

My question is more: what if you do it right? Doing it right is worse. Doing it right means you’ve done it how someone else decided to. That person wasn’t the same as you. That person doesn’t have the experience you have, the personality you were drawn with, the particulars of those adventures you’ve lived in, on and through.

I’ve been Mr Miyagied again by my friend and mentor Myke Dixon. He set me a task. I’ll say that the explicit purpose of the task is to express your creativity through different means – paper, pencil and coloured pens in this case. I’m a writer so I use only some of these tools and I use them differently when I’m etching out my stories. The implicit purpose of the task, however, was for me to realise that I’m a crazy person who has been so institutionalised by what’s been done before, by the wisdom and awesomeness of experts that I can’t even think straight for myself anymore and I look to others to provide the parameters of my creativity. My creativity.

Fuck. That.

So this is what happened. I sat down to do the task. My tailbone rested in a slight curve in the chair seat. My back perfectly vertical, I found the gap in my other fingers to place the ones on my left hand in between (my hands were really dry so the sound of my fingers brushing their way past each other wasn’t dissimilar to the turning of a new leaf in a book), then I stretched out. I had my tools and I had the bullet-point instructions for what I was going to do. I won’t give you the task – I’ll just reiterate that it’s a very simple one – in case you have the privilege of being Mr Miyagied by Myke too.

But I sat down. I laid out the paper; I took a pen (a lovely new one, with a fresh spongy tip) held it tight in my hand, and looked again at my phone upon which the instructions with their somewhat contradictory implications stood (for example, don’t take your pen off the page but also add colour).

I got up. I made myself a coffee. As the steamer fizzed and whirred through my milk, I thought: how will I start? I’ll draw a squiggly line, then maybe I’ll draw me as a stick person on the squiggly line, I decided. Should it be a squiggly line or a straight line? Squiggly. I’m kind of squiggly at the start of it all. Squiggly feels right. OK. What next? Who else is there on the line with me? And then, where do I go? And what next? Oh god, this is hard. Am I doing it right? I wonder if there’s anyone else who’s done this and has shared his or her experience on the worldwideweb?

I shit you not. That thought actually entered my little pea brain.

I’ll package this up for you quite bluntly. I was so scared of getting my drawing activity wrong– the purpose of which was to be creative and have fun above all else – that I almost checked to see how someone else had approached it.

Do I have so little faith in my own capabilities that I can no longer look to myself to draw my experiences on a thread of my own making? Yes, my life, my experiences, the way I see the world.

Holy shit. I have so far to go but it started that day. When I almost looked at someone else’s life picture to create my own.


Embarrassed by my own rule-following,

Aimee Coleman