Monday, November 14, 2011
I write most of my weekly sermons/talks out - word for word. I don't deliver them that way but I've got the text there - I'm used to filling up blank pages. Somehow the idea of this 5-8 pages of double spaced verbiage has left me more anxious than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I know what I want to say but seeing it in print in front of me is daunting. Once committed to print it will become at risk of judgement. A grade.
There is an awareness growing inside of me that deep down I'm going to do this wrong. I'm not afraid of people disagreeing with me. I'm not afraid of a low grade because the prof thinks my point is rubbish. What's affecting me in this assignment is the same thing that creeps up and paralyses me in other endeavours: I'm afraid I'll do it wrong. My fear is that I'll have missed the point entirely and turned something in that is not what the assignment is asking for.
I could blame the 30 years since my last assignment like this. But the simple truth is that this dogs me all over the place when I'm trying to satisfy a request that I feel is ambiguous. Generally it's not as ambiguous as it feels, it's just that I don't want to fail to meet expectations and telling me to do A, B and C makes me feel much more in control than telling me to describe the scene outside my window. What do you want to know? Are you asking for something poetic, literal or scientific? Should I keep it simple and straightforward or should I drag out the thesaurus? And my mind is off and running and paralysed all at once.
One thing that's becoming clear in this process is that educating Brian is about a whole lot more than the books I'm reading or the lectures I'm taking in.
Today I will get at least one paragraph on this blank screen and I'll give myself permission to fail because trying and failing sounds more satisfying than failing to try.
Do you have any favourite tips on getting past the blank page?