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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Journal and Fear

The symptoms are familiar: My heart pounds, I feel like I have “butterflies” in my stomach, my hands tremble so badly that I can’t write.

I admit that I suffer from B-MAD. B-MAD? B-M Anxiety Disorder.

Okay, okay: Blank Moleskine Anxiety Disorder. There, I said it. Are you happy?

Though there is no easy definition to this complex disorder, basically B-MAD is the paralyzing fear a journalist faces when faced with a brand new, clean, blank, Moleskine Journal.

The fear of the blank page is a real barrier to the creative process. The thought of scarring it with ink can throw a person into an anxiety attack elevated to the point of acute fear and grave sickness. B-MAD is an anxiety disorder producing persistent fear leading to writing impotence.

Moleskine Journal open, pen in hand: What’s the first mark to place in my new journal? Name, right? Not that easy. I’m reminded of the time when a psychology professor gave me his new pen and asked me to try it. I, of course, signed my name. The specific statistics have faded, but the lesson is still clear: A majority of people -- when given a new pen to try -- will write their name. What did he always write? In order to buck the status quo, he always wrote, “I will not write my name.”

So, if not my name first, then what? After all, this is “…the legendary notebook used by European artists and thinkers for the best two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway...”

Who am I to scar a legacy like this?

Well, my Moleskine therapist would probably tell me, “You paid good money for it – you own it. It’s up to you to create without judgment – especially judgment from yourself!”

Still, what if I make a mistake, or mispell (oops, I mean misspell) something, or I hate my doodle or….? B-MAD taking over! Must. Have. Courage!

Am I alone? Do you ever suffer from B-MAD? What is the first thing you write on the blank page of your new Moleskine?

As the little pamphlet that accompanies every new Moleskine reads:

The legendary black notebook is once again being passes from one pocket to the next; with its various different page styles it accompanies the creative professions and the imagination of our time. The adventure of Moleskine continues, and its still-blank pages will tell the rest.

Sir Bowie “Endeavoring to Defeat B-MAD” of Greenbriar


  1. I know the feeling of having nothing to say; however, since I don't make my living writing in my Moleskine (at least not yet!), I don't get anxiety about it. I never write my name in my Moleskine's. The first thing I write is either the date and time, Subject title, or both. After reading your blog this morning I went for a walk and was listening to some Mellow Music and Enya came on. She says it best, "If you really want to you can find a way. If you really want to you can seize the day."

  2. I use a pencil and write any old guff that comes into my head.....sketch write...soon sense starts forming naturally. Leap and the net will open before you. You'll also find that some of the real clever stuff is in the guff.

    Sir Dayvd.