In praise of white space & blank slates
The designer refers to it as white space.
The architect: open space.
The artist: a clean slate.
The writer: a blank page.
Others may call it wasted or dead space.
And when the critics are looking over your shoulder as you contemplate your space, they might be the ones calling it out as under-designed, writers block, inefficient, or unfinished.
Space: an invitation with deep-seated fear
Many of us feel compelled to fill our space. We’ve bought into the idea that this it is what’s required of us. We’ve been led to believe that to behold the blank, dead, empty, open or white space somehow signals that we’re lazy or unproductive. Too often the result is that we act out of fear.
Instead we should be embracing what is not yet on the invisible sketch canvas of what’s to come. That is the invitation to discovering new-found joy.
Recently we embraced this invitation and went on a brief hiatus from Joy Venture (it’s our second such break since starting JV). In this downtime when we weren’t concerned with pushing out the next podcast, we had space to think about and do – other things. Things that were necessary, things that stretched us, and things that demanded out attention. But just as important, no thing at all. The idea of setting up margin in your life – not feeling compelled to fill your space, your calendar, your social feed, etc. – and leaving room to breathe, think about and pursue different ideas is important. These are themes worth touching on as we move forward.
Risks and rewards of exploring the space
Specifically we used our blank and empty space since November to scrutinize Joy Venture. There was real risk in confronting the fact that this thing we’ve poured ourselves into might have run its course – and we needed to wrestle with that reality.
Should we continue?
If so, where do we go next?
How might we do new and different things?
How do we stay true to Joy Venture’s purpose while also pursuing new voices and ideas?
We also had to push back against conventional wisdom, which suggested we were foolish to “go dark” without new content for months. What about our followers? What about momentum? What about the timely posts you need to stay relevant? What about securing a sponsor to help us grow, grow, grow?
To us, and specifically for the podcast, relevance has more to do with real interactions than it does regular rhythms to catch a surfing audience. We cannot do this for the likes and shares. We’re unable to run on the infinite treadmill of production and find joy in that kind of effort. We know that for most things in life less is more. We tend to cherish what’s finite versus what is in abundance all around us. We believe the work must resonate at a deeper level for people, ourselves included.
While we do look at our analytics, we hold dear the responses we get from people who take time to send us a thoughtful note. Those individual pieces of feedback obliterate how we think about the algorithms of visibility, should we ever feel tempted to allow data to dictate our joy.
Questions to contemplate
But this isn’t about us. This invitation also is for you, friend and follower. So we ask you, the individual who is at least moderately intrigued with this idea of discovering joy –
Have you embraced the white, blank, empty, open and dead space in your life? Why not?
Have you been feverishly filling your spaces out of obligation? Why?
Will you accept the invitation that space affords and create margin in the months ahead to see what you can begin to draft on the invisible sketch canvas?
What do you want to create that you’ve been afraid to pursue? What’s holding you back from taking the initial steps?
The space and time away from Joy Venture these past months confirmed its value for us, especially as others continue to discover what we’re up to and choose to listen and lean in. It has renewed us and refreshed some of our thinking about where we go from here.
All this to say, our hiatus has been rewarding and we’re ready to return to the podcast this spring with new episodes of insight and extraordinary individuals. We hope it will be the inspiration and encouragement you need to step off the treadmill of production to pursue things that matter.
Thank you for your ongoing encouragement of us as we pursue this endeavor in hopes of helping others discover, develop and spread their joy.