How Do You Solve the Blank Page Problem?

Rachel Thompson
5 min readAug 8, 2017
The Blank Page Problem: How to use the concept of a studio to make progress on important work.

Have you ever experienced what I call the blank page problem? When you start working on a project by opening a new document, then stare it without taking action.

Yes? Me too! For example, a dozen pristine canvases are in my apartment waiting for my creativity to magically appear on them.

I want to start creating, but I’m not making progress. Why not? And how can I change that?

This problem exists with business work too. We have ideas for all sorts of things that we feel we should be doing but never actually make progress on.

The Blank Page Problem is a Lack of Structure

The problem is that so much unconstrained potential overwhelms and paralyzes us. Consider what happens if you ask a child to choose one play option out of all the possible play options ever? I don’t have children but I imagine it might not be a pretty experience.

We crave a structure we understand within which we can work. Or which we can break through in rebel fashion. We need constraints to work our creative and human magic. We need resistance to take action. We need paths we can follow until we want to wander off them. For me, the concept of a studio is one of my favorite ways to solve the blank page problem. It’s the grown-up version of playing with a cardboard box.

We Need to Design Structure Using the Concept of a Studio

One way to think about the concept of a studio is to think about a cardboard box. You know, the one you always want to think outside of for fantastic, innovative ideas. That one.

What happens If you give a child a cardboard box? The box transforms into whatever that child wants it to be at that moment to support playing. The shape and size of the box create the structure needed to react and empowers the child to start playing.

Adults need that structure too. We need the box to create within it or think outside of it. Our boxes become our studios. And our studios are where the play happens. And we need to design our studios.

A studio is a place to create. It has head space and white space. It feels safe, open, clear, simple, messy, and complex. Ideas, materials, and people collide. It is comfortable and playful. It…

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Rachel Thompson

Rachel is a strategy consultant and business coach for solopreneurs. She is based in NC with her dog, Devin. Learn more at daringstudios.com