Struggling with a blank canvas
I use a product on my Mac called iA Writer to write my blog posts. It's not a fancy program – and I'm sure I don't know half of what it could do.
For me, the thing I like most is the big white canvas staring at me, begging me to start a new post. It's a challenge. It bets me that I can't do it. I wager that I can.
Most days I win. But that's simply because I've mastered the struggle of staring at a blank page. And my trick is simple. I accept my fear of the blank page and then I move forward. My emotions don't guide my skills, so I push thru the fear simply by starting to write.
But I still hate the white page. And yet, these days, I also love it. Because with each day of writing, I become just a tiny bit more confident that I'll be able to tackle it the next day as well. I have momentum on my side.
What happens when you don't have momentum on your side?
The challenge of a white screen isn't one just felt by writers or bloggers. It's also a challenge many of my designer friends have, as do some of my developer friends (those who tackle even basic GUI work).
And if you've not created new designs daily, how do muster up the energy and effort to push past the fear of an empty canvas?
One friend of mine takes time out of her day to step away from the computer and do design work in more classic mediums (pens, paints, etc). But not all designers and developers have those skills.
Which leaves the question, what happens when you're staring at a blank canvas with an impending deadline and the need to push out a new web design?
When was the last time you checked out Headway Themes?
Over the last few weeks, I've spent some time chatting with the good folks over at Headway Themes. Like I said in my post the other day about iThemes, we tend to move past the “older” players in the WordPress market looking for some new shiny entrant. But that's silly when the “classic” players continue to innovate.
I use these terms “older” and “classic” with a smirk on my face – because along with every other premium theme vendor, this is a space that is still relatively young.
Nevertheless, if you spend a few minutes with my friends from Headway, you won't be able to not hear about a new feature they've been working on – and one they're really excited about.
They're calling it skins. But don't get too caught up in the name, because what's more important is what skins deliver.
Magazines at the Hair Salon
You already know that I won't be able to tell you about them without telling you a story, right? So let's get on with it.
When my daughter was four she loved going with me when I'd go get a hair cut. It was our date time, just the two of us. She'd just sit there and talk with me while the stylist did their work.
One day she picked up a magazine, much like the other ones you've seen at hair salons (and even SuperCuts). It was filled with different people with different hair cuts. These were looks. And she picked one and pointed it out to me and the gal doing my hair, and she declared she wanted her hair to look like the photo.
The only problem was that my daughter had hair that ended at her shoulder and the photo was of a woman with hair that almost made it to her waist.
No cutting would do that for my daughter, which took some time to explain.
But we've all been there, right? Maybe more women than men. But you see a look and you think, how could I get that look on my own head? And how would it look? Would it look that good?
Those “looks” are skins. Pre-configured styles applied to sections of content, so that you get a sharp, clean look for your site instead of starting with a blank page.
Take a look at these three samples that style the blog post section of a home page. Completely different looks. But each looks amazing – and much better than starting with a blank canvas.
The nice thing is that these skins aren't rigid – you still get ways to tweak and adjust them, much like you can when you realize that the haircut you thought would look great on your head needs a few tweaks.
It's coming soon!
I wish I could tell you exactly when Headway skins would be appearing, but I can't tell you because I don't know. I know they're working on it. And I know they'll be amazing. But I don't have a date.
So until then, every time you see a blank canvas – fight the good fight. Step into the ring knowing that tiny little steps practiced consistently will give you all the courage you need to win.