Untitled document


Credit: Rachel Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press

William Flannery

Untitled documents are a godsend. They are the manifestation of a blank slate: a canvas for creativity. With an untitled document, you have all the room in the world to release your inner self, like this article. Ya feel?

The bland interface of the page is nothing to be a afraid of. It’s an invitation to let your imagination flow. Without the untitled document, there would be no spark of genius, no drive to change it.

If you were presented with an example document, your thoughts would be influenced, not inspired. You would feel restricted to a specific format, which may compromise your ideas. As the age old adage runs, “every journey begins with a single step,” and the white sea that waits to be crossed is the first one.

You need to forge a craft to take you across the bright canvas, one that can withstand the hurricanes of doubt and the storms of loss of thought. This is where your true creative potential shines, where your aspirations become limitless and your writing inspirational. With the untitled document, you are forced to add extra depth to your thought, extra effort in your planning. There’s no artificial premade facade for you to tinker with mindlessly, there’s nothing to hold your hand.

By revoking the untitled document, we sacrifice our full writing potential: our prose is adopted from the empty thoughts of a computer, rather than brilliantly poured onto the empty space of the page. We indulge laziness, treating our words like numbers on a spreadsheet, designed to match a sterile placement of ones and zeroes; and’s and the’s.

Rather than painting your own visage through words, your work becomes the puppet of an anonymous corporate employee, or perhaps algorithm, designed to manipulate a boring canvas into an even more banal block of text.

Without the untitled document, there’s no need to write in the first place. What significance do your words hold if they are already filled with the work of others? No one will care what you have to say when it becomes lost in the endless libraries of example documents. Unsung inspiration is one thing: a topic can incite creative spirit, a quote can spark creative fire, but you need an untitled document to let your flames of diction run wild.

I understand the temptation to seek another outlet, another source to launch from. In the midst of struggle, we seek the comfort of the so called “starting off point,” which we consider a mere instigator of our ideas. But you have already compromised your thoughts. You need that tribulation, those passing hours of staring at a stark white screen to craft something truly beautiful.

From our deepest troubles comes our most profound results. By sinking deeper into the abyss of procrastination and doubt, we have a stronger will to claw our way out and emerge victorious. The rush of euphoria from putting those first words, your words, on an untitled documents is so relieving.  You’ve made your mark, not with the cheap guidance of others, but by your own power. The trouble of the untitled document has been overtaken by your own hand, your own thoughts; and now you crave for more. You ride the high and before you know it, you’ve turned a once inviting page of immortal witness into a work of art.

Maybe it doesn’t matter to you and getting the work done is all that’s important, no matter the cost. But you can’t deny the feeling that you’ve wasted your potential, the unshakable nerve that you could have done better, and that those who see your work won’t appreciate you as they should. Because you rejected the struggle, your product loses gravity. It isn’t a page of carefully chosen language birthed from the emotions of human struggle, but the same wall of  indiscernible ink as the example you copied from.

Yes, the untitled document can be difficult to work with. Staring at a mocking monitor may be the bane of your writing life, but struggle isn’t only encountered on the page. Blank slates exist everywhere in life, and you will face conflict and trial in trying to achieve your goal. But, if a page of nothingness, absolute zero, can force you to give up, then what do expect from yourself in the rest of life?

We need the untitled document to be that necessary evil we must vanquish by our own sword. We need to experience struggle so that we can dig deep within ourselves and discover new and exciting creativity that must be shared with the world. Without the blank slate, there would be no room for thought.

In a busy world where lights and sounds flash before us at untrackable speed, where people are zipping by in perpetual rush hour with frantic chaos as their transportation, we need serenity to slow down and write. Put your headphones in, get your cup of preferred beverage, and stare at the calmness of the untitled document. Listen to the gentle waves of that white sea, for you are determined to cross it.


[alert type=blue ]This article is part of a creative series from the Opinions department. Read its companion piece here: Untitled Document by Sam Bova[/alert]

What do you think?