Fear of the Blank Page

Creation is a deeply personal process. The work you put out into the world represents you, and so creation is the act making yourself vulnerable. It means exposing yourself to the opinions of others. That is why I fear the blank page. I see the gap. I feel the distance between my taste and my ability to create. Every time I start a new design project, I feel the doubts creeping in. Will I create anything good this time? I seem to simultaneously experience the four fears: the fear of the messy unknown, the fear of judgement, the fear of the first step, and the fear of losing control. Like other young designers, I have to push through those fears every time I start something that other people will eventually see.

When I was in Stanford's design program, a professor named Dave Beach had everyone raise jazz hands to the sky. He then instructed us to jump and cheer, "I failed!" I have never forgotten that moment. "Fail early, fail often" was the mantra. The goal was to build up an immunity to failure, so that fear of it would never hold you back. Like Dick Karpinski says, "anything worth doing is worth doing badly—at first." I remember that, and it keeps me from freezing up. The enemy of creativity is fear, so I keep going, no matter what might happen.

Keep calm, and carry on.

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