The Blank Page

The Blank Page
Image provided by ruben alexander
https://www.flickr.com/photos/the-wanderers-eye/

I’ve been doing some type of writing for years. Blogging has been the most consistent though. Despite this being so, the sort of writing I like the best is the kind when I’m penning a story. (The other forms of writing? Well, there’s journalism, letters, and the never-ending lists — and, indeed, fictional stories. I’m sure some would say there’s more, but I think most forms of writing can fall into these categories.) Whatever type of writing is being done, there’s the perpetual blank page to deal with at the start.

Going by what I’ve read and heard, most of us, as writers, dread this page, whether it be on a computer, word processor, typewriter, or the piece of paper. Somehow it terrifies us. Nothing is there for the writer to use as a launching point, which brings up images of disaster.

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Super Short Story

When I was a kid, my parents insisted that I learn how to swim. I loved swimming from the first class and tried to master the different strokes. But there was that day when the teacher wanted me to dive off the low diving board. All of a sudden that water looked  menacing. She wants me to jump head first from here? I’ll drowned! Of course, I didn’t even come close to drowning. According to the teacher, my launch was almost perfect.

Does that blank page feel like you’re looking at that treacherous water from the diving board?

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Some writers will still have that sensational idea stirring in their heads. Yet, once sitting before that blank page, the words have escaped and no matter what is put on that page, it isn’t right, at least not right enough for the writer.

Other writers aren’t so fortunate and find the superb idea has vanished or it suddenly sounds ludicrous. The person often ends up staring at all that whiteness before him/her, hoping and praying the idea will reappear somehow or a better idea will pop into his/her mind.

I’ve had these times myself, although not often. In fact, the times of this horror are rare. For unexplainable reasons, the blank page for me usually means a fresh start. Any mistakes from prior works are erased. My inspiration is renewed. My motivation is energized. I might not even have any ideas to start writing with, yet still feel the empowerment of having a new beginning laying before me.

In this era of technology, I have the luxury of getting online to find my writing ideas. They’re all over the place out here in cyber space. If you’re having difficulty finding a worthy idea, try a search. One of my favorite sites for writing ideas is Creative Writing Prompts that’s part of The Writer’s Digest.

The right words have always been a huge problem for me. It scarcely has stopped me from writing though. Long ago I always had the Thesaurus book sitting with me while I wrote. But then I found Thesaurus.Com. I could start with the most simplest of words and find so many other words that better described what I wanted to convey in my writing piece. The lack of my vocabulary skills was resolved.

This doesn’t mean I don’t agonize during my hours of writing. My trouble appears farther down the page after I’ve writing a couple or a few paragraphs. It’s at this point when doubt sets in and I’m reluctant to go any farther. Do I know what I’m doing here? Should I rework that second paragraph? Maybe I should just toss that paragraph. Is any of this making sense? Yes, misgivings about the entire project come flooding into my mind.

I have found something that works to alleviate this rush of dark apprehension. It doesn’t work every time, but often enough to spur me to try it. I put that page half done to the side and start where I left off on a clean blank page. I can normally continue the story I’m writing.

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Have you found some strategies that get you past your writing difficulties? Could you share them?

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

 

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17 Replies to “The Blank Page”

  1. You have captured very well a feeling I think many of us share Glynis. There’s a point when the excitement over the idea/concept begins to wane and we start to wonder if the thing we are writing is going to make sense. I’m not speaking from a mountain of success here, but I always try to finish the thing I am writing and then put it away for a few days. Usually, when I come back to it, the energy returns and I seem to know what to change. Of course, sometimes, I return and I agree with my doubtful self and I leave it put away for a long time.

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  2. The hardest thing for me is to write without the creative spark. It is not the blank page that bothers me, nor having nothing to write about, it is the joylessness of writing without the desire to write.

    I can usually push through this by casting about until an idea ignites my creativity – but other times, it is best to just walk away.

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  3. I also use Thesaurus.com, I love it, thanks to it I´m growing my vocabulary. I usually don’t have many problems with the blank page. I just start writing whatever comes to my mind and let it flow. My problem is then revisiting that writing and finding it terrible, not very useful, or without any sense.
    But my biggest problem is setting the writing routine. Until now, I still find it difficult to write every single day. There are days when I arrive from work and I just want to watch TV or read a book. That´s what I fight most. I found out that if I get up early and write before heading to work, it works. But then again, I’ve been having problems getting up earlier than usual. And there are always factors I can’t control, like these days for instance when I have a terrible cold, so getting up early is discarded until I feel better 🙂
    Great post!

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, Carla.

      I don’t have a job per se. I’m the housewife who keeps things running as smoothly as possible from home. Therefore, writing time isn’t much of a problem. I have two windows of writing, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This doesn’t guarantee I get much done during those sessions, but I’m in there fighting.

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  4. I enjoyed this thoughtful, honest post and the variety of responses it elicited about what writers struggle with. Even though I’m retired, my biggest problem is finding enough uninterrupted time to write — there are so many other things I enjoy doing! I also tend to beat a piece that’s not working to death, when it would be kinder to myself and it to put it aside and forget about it.

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    1. I’m just the opposite of you when working on a piece. When I feel myself struggling for a while, I close the folder. Mind you, I don’t toss the work away, but I will let it sit for a while when it may be better to try a little harder. I learned this strategy to alleviate anxiety and that feeling of being overwhelmed. The point in putting something to the side was to give myself breathing room. However, I might be using this technique too often now.

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  5. Facing the blank page is scary to me. Not so much because it’s there, but because sometimes the words in my mind want to hide. Sometimes, I have to muster the courage to get something down. I will say that it’s becoming easier the more I write. But the fear is still there.

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    1. George, I hope it continues to get easier for you to get that first sentence/paragraph down on a blank page. I do understand your fear; I just don’t experience it until I’ve written a little.

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  6. The blank page is only a problem when I have too much going on in my head (life) and can’t find the quiet I need to relax and concentrate. As well, I have had the bad habit of not finishing what I start because I let it ‘rest.’ Have been doing a little housekeeping lately, but can’t seem to chuck anything out.
    A thought provoking post, Glynis. ❤

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    1. JoHanna, do you find that some calendar seasons affect these problems more than others? With me, the seasonal period when I have my best writing is in autumn. I’ve come to the conclusion this happens because of all those year growing up when the new school year would start then. I think it’s an inspirational and motivational trigger somehow.

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      1. Glynis, I do believe you are onto something. Autumn is absolutely the season when I buy a new notebook, pen, organize my office and have an enthusism to sit down and write.
        I had never equated it with the school calendar. But that makes so much sense, whether it is my own school schedule, the fact that in my child rearing years I would return to writing projects when the children went back to school in the fall…yes Glynis….I believe you have located a definite trigger for creativity and I say we embrace it fully!

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