A few weeks ago, I came across a post on LinkedIn describing an exercise with a blank sheet of paper geared toward revealing possibilities and helping a person step outside the limitations of schedules, journals, and records of a “previous self.”
The author, Lynn Hidy of UpYourTeleSales, suggested that writing, drawing, scribbling, listing, narrating, or whatever else we do on a clean sheet of paper can help clarify our options as the “deciders” along our own paths.
I suppose this is paper as the psilocybin to the self-narratives and self-models of my project management and calendar software. In this case, I gave into curiosity and decided to experiment with the blank sheet.
I saw a tree. And the tree was me. But also you. And no one in particular. The end. But also the beginning.
OK, it didn’t quite go down like that.
When I released myself to the paper, I sketched out a web of tasks linked to the results and events they would produce and encourage. I noted which tasks were dependent upon others. I basically wrote and drew what I would type into Asana later that day.
I know what you’re thinking: “he should have taken the psilocybin instead.”
While I did not distance myself from my responsibilities and processes while scribbling, I was reminded of the pleasure of scribbling itself. The boring web of work and wants I wove seemed pretty, infused with personal graphic flair my dashboards lack.
In that instance, I wasn’t quite the standard bearer for the power of creative expression on paper, but my experience was sailing towards that shore.
The second time I gave myself to a blank sheet, I sketched a character I had created when I was a kid and had not drawn in years. Maybe next time I really will see that tree who is me. Which would be frightening. Probably.
It made sense to me that I would discover pleasure in the exercise. After all, I had previously learned to luxuriate in printed books after living by digital alone for a time.
The clean sheet, and my recent experience using a paper notebook while taking a course at the Haitian Embassy, has me thinking about ways to reintroduce writing on paper into my professional life. Before I started taking handwritten notes on my tablet, I used to fill stacks of notebooks across my home office and jobs. While writing to screens has been my approach for several years, I seem to be trending towards using a hybrid approach to notetaking where subjects and circumstances will determine my medium.
And now, before I release you back into the Printerverse, I will commune with the clean sheet again. Possibilities. Clarity. Wait, there is a message for you: it asks you to honor me with paper samples and complimentary notebooks when you see me at Print 17 next month.
The clean sheet knows.
Andy Solages connects people and organizations with technologies to improve professional experiences and business results. Andy is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News from The Printerverse and a regular participant in #PrintChat on Twitter.