Do you wrestle with your thoughts as though they have a will of their own? Do they tend to occupy your attention at times when you desperately need that attention for something else?
There are various techniques that people use to clear their minds, including exercise, meditation, or therapy. But how about when you’re in the moment of crisis? How can you clear your mind – instantly? Here’s a technique that might help.
This technique involves something that many writers fear:
What? White paper? What’s that all about?
Many writers fear white paper because it induces paralysis, fear, and agitation. Why? Because they have to fill the paper with words and the writer can’t always find the right words very easily.
As Douglas Adams once wrote:
Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.
I’m not 100% sure what Adams meant by this, but I think his relationship with white paper (or blank paper) may have been a tad… conflicted.
Consider this, though:
What if you used white paper, the blank page, as a mind clearing technique?
I’m going to talk about an 80s TV show for a moment. Stick with me.
White paper and Ralph Hinckley’s Super Suit
If you were born in the 1970s or earlier, there’s a good chance that you remember The Greatest American Hero. The main character (Ralph Hinckley) was a permed high school teacher who was given an orange costume by mysterious aliens (no, I’m not making this up). The Suit, as it was often referred to, gave Ralph super human abilities, like:
- super strength
- super speed
- and possibly many others
There was one catch, though: although the aliens gave Ralph the instruction booklet on how to use the Suit, he lost it. Twice. So then he resorted to a lot of trial and error to use the Suit properly.
In one memorable episode Ralph kept experimenting with the Suit to use some of its other powers, including telekinesis, the ability to move objects with your mind. Ralph is advised to use the image of white paper. Whenever he thinks of white paper, he’s able to move objects with his mind. Control is a problem, but at least he can move things with his mind when he thinks of white paper.
But what does white paper have to do with clearing your mind?
Simple. Ralph wasn’t thinking about white paper to make objects move. He was using white paper as a means to clear his mind and allow the Suit to use telekinesis.
You might think of it as being similar to when Tim Robbins’s pitcher “Nuke” in Bull Durham is trying to “breathe through his eye” in order to throw better pitches. While wearing some of his girlfriend’s clothing.
It’s an image that allows your mind to get stuff done.
Although this image isn’t so helpful to the reader.
It’s just disturbing.
How do I use this white paper idea?
I use it to try to clear my mind whenever I’m in tense situations or there are plenty of demands on my time. Say, for example, I’m surrounded by irate customers/colleagues/family. I mutter “white paper” to myself and try to blank out my mind, if only for a moment. Guess what? It works. It gives me a moment to regain my balance and my bearings.
Try it the next time you’re in a pickle. It might give you the breathing room that you need. And you won’t have to breathe through your eye or wear a silly orange Suit either.
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Images by nate steiner and others.
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