Defeating the Blank Page

Having written about the blank page nightmare in the past for Nanowrimo, I find myself thinking a lot about blank pages, and how to feel less scared of them. Having been in publishing for 15 years, and as an author myself, I am keenly aware of the dreaded fight we have internally. Many of us feel that we are not ‘good’ writers, in fact, most authors that I know of have this horrifying view of themselves. We suffer from this belief that we are imposters, and we hold this view in good company. One of the authors to whom I admire greatly, Neil Gaiman, shared his own view of this in an interview, that I highly recommend you read: He points out how we all feel, and I believe these things play into the author’s mind. So how can we conquer this? Especially when it is this tiny inner voice that keeps creeping up and reminding us how terrible we are. I don’t think this is saying all authors are mentally ill, but there is something about art that leaves you with this tiny bit of uncertainty about your skill in the art form to which you labor.

Research into why artists experience more depression and anxiety than others because of the fact that creative minds tend to be more aware. They dedicate a severe amount of time thinking of their failures, fears, insecurities, and disappointments more than most. Somewhat, idealists, authors tend to be somewhat conscious of the world around them in a keenly and almost highly focused way. I can attest to this aspect of an author. I do tend to dissect the world around me, finding fodder for stories wherever I go. I see the world as almost a living tapestry from which to draw ideas. Sometimes I use my fear or anxieties to spill out onto the page, sometimes its the aspects of love or curiosity.

Key One: of defeating that blank is to focus on the world outside, I find that if you are stuck, go observe some normal space. Go to a farmers market or just out to a park, observe life as its unfolding around you and see it as a blank canvas to which you can draw on. Sometimes the break from the table and typewriter lets our mind reset itself and creates more puzzles for us to solve.

Key Two: is to do what I like to call just type. It sounds kind of counter-intuitive because if you having writer’s block, what can you possibly write? But, in fact, sometimes it’s a great way to break you of that, even starting with something strange or just writing a letter to someone even if they are not real, tends to break the block inside your head and allows that flow to resume.

Key Three: go to a writer you admire. Pick up a writer that you like to read, sometimes it is by reading someone else’s style we break the cycle of blocks in our own self as we get drawn into the creative world that they inhabit, its somewhat a bi-proxy almost muse like an act, but it works. Sometimes visiting the worlds and characters to which we love, we draw from the creative pool and get inspired to resume.

Key Four: join writer communities. Nanowrimo especially has forums for writers to inspire others, it is a great resource for writers who are just stuck. They have a whole month dedicated to providing prompts and encouragement for authors but in between that, they continue to post, comment and discuss the art of writing. Whatever methods you use, you are not alone, that blank page is just a moment to take a break, recharge, and recall what it is we authors need to remember most. That life is going on outside of the page, and there in the wild places where nature and people reign, a story is hanging, waiting to find its author, go out there and grab it, before it is no more.

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