January 12

There’s a famous anecdote of a painter who would always struggle at the beginning of each new project. An empty, white canvas staring back at him was paralyzing. After all, what if he made a mistake and ruined the nice, new canvas? No, it had to be perfect, so he had to get off to a perfect start, right?

After a while, he grew tired of his paralysis and developed a new technique. At the beginning of each new project, he would paint a random line or shape on the canvas as a starting point. Then he would begin work on the painting by trying to incorporate the random figure he had made on the canvas. Instead of fretting over where to start, he removed the decision by adding a random starting point. Then the ideas just flowed.

I love this story because it applies to nearly every kind of creative work.

The blank page? Paralyzing.

The blank proposal? Where do you even start?

The empty pitch deck? What if I get it wrong?

The best strategy is to simply start somewhere. Start typing some words. Create a few slides that you know are terrible but that you can use as a starting point. Put something on the canvas, then shape it into what it needs to be.

Start from anywhere. You can always get where you want to go with it as long as you are moving forward.

Is there a project you’re stuck on that simply needs an inciting incident or starting point?

Related Articles

May 4

Writer Ernest Hemingway’s work life was decidedly ordered and very serious. One of his practical habits was to never quit his work having exhausted himself…

Responses