TThere is a very famous story about a man who wanted to learn how to paint. However, every time he sat down and picked up a brush his mind went blank. No matter how many times he tried he simply could not create anything. Hours would pass and yet his canvas remained empty. There wasn’t a single drop of paint on it. The man tried to get over his anxiety. He went to the bookstore and bought dozens of books on painting. They didn’t help. He visited the museum and looked at all the great works, taking notes the entire time. It was no use. Finally, after a month of trying he was ready to give up. As the man was packing up his paints and brushes a friend stopped by to visit him. The friend had heard that the man was hard at work on a painting and wanted to see what he had done. He was shocked to discover that the man hadn’t even completed a single brush stroke.
The man told his friend that he was overwhelmed and couldn’t paint anything. He was afraid that he would screw up and do a bad job. In response the picked up the entire paint set and threw it at the canvas. Reds, blues, greens, yellows, and oranges all splattered and smeared across the canvas. The man got upset and told his friend that he had ruined the art project. Now he’d have to fix everything immediately or else the canvas would be ruined. He kicked the friend out and got to work right away.
The next day the man called his friend and invited him over. When the friend arrived the man thanked him for throwing paint on the canvas and showed him the beautiful piece of artwork that he had created from the mess. Once the paint was on the canvas the man had been forced to work quickly in order to make something. He didn’t have the opportunity to worry about what he was going to use or how he was going to paint. All of his material was right there on that canvas. He simply had to sort it out.
When you write an academic paper getting started is usually the hardest part. You don’t know what you are going to put on the paper and you worry that your words will sound stupid. It’s hard to get started because of this. Instead of procrastinating and beating yourself up with doubt try to put all of your ideas out there in one sitting. Write down everything that you know about the subject and just get it out of your system. Doing so allows you to overcome your fear of the blank page. After you’ve started to write you can easily go back and edit so that things become clearer and points become connected.
Getting your page dirty is the secret to beating procrastination and worry. When the words are out you don’t have to worry about them anymore. Instead you can simply polish your ideas and make something beautiful out of them.